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Energy Sec. announces $193M for energy research

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JUDITH KOHLER | April 29, 2009 05:53 PM EST | AP


GOLDEN, Colo. — The primary U.S. lab for renewable energy will receive $110 million in federal stimulus funds and another $83 million will go toward wind energy and other alternative power and efficiency projects, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday.

"Wind energy will be one of the most important contributors to meeting President Obama's target of generating 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2012," Chu said.

Also on the administration's priorty list is making buildings more energy efficient.

NREL, in Golden, will get $68 million for an energy-efficient office building, with the goal of creating a design process for use on other construction projects. NREL will also receive $19.2 million for solar, geothermal and fuel cell equipment to produce electricity for its labs and $13.5 million for upgrades to its biorefinery research facility.

NREL will get another $10 million for testing and evaluation of wind technology at the Energy Department's Wind Technology Center in Colorado.

The wind energy research money will be administered by DOE's office in Golden and includes $45 million to research and test drive-train systems for wind turbines, $14 million to encourage private industry in the development of lighter, more advanced materials for wind turbine components and $24 million to develop up to three partnerships between universities and industry to focus on critical technological improvements for wind energy.

Obama's goal, Chu said, is to prepare the country to compete economically decades down the road, as well as meet the immediate challenges of climate change and energy demand.

"Because of those things, you want to get head of the curve," Chu said. "This is the president's vision, knowing what's going to happen 10, 20, 30 years from now. And we want to go where that is rather than fight a rearguard action."

Chu's visit to the lab was his first as energy secretary. He is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, Calif.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said Chu is moving the U.S. toward "the next place that we need to go as a country."

The Energy Department is managing $39 billion in grants, tax breaks and loan guarantees under the stimulus package, with much of it going to renewable energy and conservation programs.

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On the Web:

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: http://www.nrel.gov/