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In June, I participated in the first session of the 2017 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Executive Energy Leadership Academy (Energy Execs).   Located in Golden, Colorado, NREL has led the way in cutting-edge clean tech research for the past 40 years, and created the foundation for what the solar industry is today.

The NREL Energy Execs program brings together a diverse group of more than 20 leaders from around the country to provide a deep dive on clean tech, and a glimpse into our energy future.

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The most exciting part of our education was touring NREL’s research facilities. If you’ve watched the popular TV show “Stranger Things,” you’d understand I was a bit concerned about the possibility of encountering monsters from an alternate dimension. Fortunately, there were neither monsters nor deprivation tanks; only some of the most brilliant scientific researchers on the planet pushing the boundaries of energy innovation.

The further I delved into the bowels of NREL, the more I realized just how special our national labs are, and the crucial role they play in our country’s economic competitiveness. The private sector has neither the capital nor the patience to allocate towards experimental clean energy innovation, which is where the national labs step in. If the United States is going to maintain its global economic dominance over the next century, then being a leader in clean tech is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

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Now, you’re probably wondering, Matt, what is the coolest technology you saw while touring NREL’s research facilities? Personally, I was blown away by the potential of Perovskites, new solar cells that can be sprayed onto a wide variety of surfaces. Not only are Perovskites now as efficient as Photovoltaic solar cells, but they are also cheaper and require less energy to produce. According to NREL researchers, Perovskites will likely be commercialized in one year’s time.

So, are you ready to paint your house in solar?

 Matt Myers spearheads the E-Capital Summit program which encourages foundations, incubators, national laboratories and cutting-edge early-stage clean technology companies to form partnerships accelerating the future economy and obtain funding for startups around America. He can be reached at matt.myers@earthx.org.

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