Telling the Story of NREL Innovators in a Book Tracking Renewable Energy’s Rise

By National Renewable Energy Laboratory Director Martin Keller

NREL writer Ernie Tucker (right), chats with NREL emeritus wind researcher Bob Thresher about Tucker’s book, “Clean Energy Innovators: NREL People Working to Change the World.”

For those of you who know about the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) well or those curious about finding out more, we’d like to share our story through our recently published 202-page Clean Energy Innovators book.

Here’s a link for a free PDF.

First, a bit of a disclaimer. This book isn’t intended to be a comprehensive history of the Solar Energy Research Institute or NREL. True, it includes stories about SERI, which officially opened its doors in Golden, Colorado, on July 5, 1977, and became one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories in 1992.

But the goal with Clean Energy Innovators is to offer a broad picture based on profiles of NRELians that our Ernie Tucker has written since he arrived at the lab in 2009 after a career in journalism. Although he never intended to chronicle NREL, he said that he was fortunate enough to encounter a number of people who have had a lasting impact.

The book cover of “Clean Energy Innovators: NREL People Working to Change the World” by NREL’s Ernie Tucker.

We realized, too, that we will not be able to spotlight everyone who had a hand in the development of wind power and solar energy, of biofuels and transportation, and more. Yet it is my hope that, by reading this, you’ll get an appreciation of how the NREL pioneers highlighted in these pages came to NREL and how they furthered our mission of providing reliable clean energy to our country and the world.

This book also comes with a twist: We’re trying not only to give readers a sense of these researchers, scientists, and leaders over the years, but tell how they shaped the progress of renewable energy technologies. As such, our writer has taken parts of profiles and woven them wherever possible into technology timelines beginning in the 1970s.

One more thing: Because he was around to write about many of us on the present Leadership Team — as well as some notable executives who retired after distinguished careers — we’ve included a chapter on that group. I hope it serves as an example of where we are as a lab today — and how we’re planning to proceed in the coming decades.

Overall, I am proud to give the public a chance to get to know us and our efforts better. For those seeking a deeper dive into our research, I encourage you to visit our website at, where you can read more profiles, by many writers; find references for NREL research; and explore an array of topics about renewable energy and energy efficiency.

I hope you enjoy this book and come away with a sense of pride in the accomplishments of these individuals and their teams working on behalf of you and the United States. In the coming months, I’ll focus on previews of each of the chapters.

Finally, thanks to all of our innovators of the past — and those to come.



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