NREL's economic impact tops $872 million

June 09, 2015

The economic impact of the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was $872.3 million nationwide in fiscal year 2014, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business.

The study estimates NREL's impact to Colorado's economy totaled $701 million, a decline of 1.6 percent from the prior year. The slight year-over-year drop was largely attributed to a decline in major construction spending that came as NREL completed the planned build-out of its sustainable campus.

Jefferson County, where the largest concentration of NREL employees is located, saw a $275 million economic impact from the national lab. The Golden-based research laboratory is among the 10 largest employers in the county, according to the study, which was done by Richard Wobbekind and Brian Lewandowski of the business research division at the Leeds School of Business.

The study was funded by Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, which manages and operates NREL for the Department of Energy. The study is online at

NREL develops clean energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices, advances related to science and engineering, and provides knowledge and innovations to integrate energy systems at all scales. NREL received $382 million in funding during 2014.

'This report shows how important NREL has become in taking our ongoing research into clean energy and making it available for the marketplace so that everyone can benefit,' said Dan Arvizu, NREL director and president of Alliance for Sustainable Energy. 'The completion of the NREL campus build-out plan gives our scientists better tools to do even more collaborative work with established companies and startups on new energy technologies.'

The CU-Boulder study, which also contains data for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, found that during 2014 NREL:Included in the report are case studies showing how innovations developed at NREL are moving from the laboratory into the marketplace:Almost 60 percent of workers at NREL are involved in research and development, according to the study, which also highlighted a highly educated workforce. Among NREL workers, 95 percent hold at least a bachelor's degree, and 63 percent have earned advanced degrees, including 31 percent with a doctorate.

The scheduled completion of NREL's sustainable campus resulted in six buildings earning certification as LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council, including the ESIF and the Research Support Facility (RSF). The addition of ESIF to the campus gives NREL an unparalleled collection of state-of-the-art capabilities that supports the development, evaluation, and demonstration of innovative clean energy technologies. The RSF is a net-zero energy building, meaning that over the course of a year it produces at least as much energy as it uses. The NREL site serves as a model for the construction of energy-efficient buildings and campuses.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Visit NREL online at

DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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