Posts Tagged ‘NREL’


Green Build Wrap: The Commercial Service Steps Up

November 16, 2009

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Daniel Harris has been a Foreign Service Officer for over 25 years serving at posts in Europe, South America, Africa, and Washington, DC, most recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Operations, U.S. Commercial Service.  He currently serves as the chief of the Commercial Section and the senior representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce in the U.S. Mission to France.

At the end of two weeks of living and breathing “Green,” our Commercial Service travelers feel exhausted but happy.  The adrenaline high that comes from pushing into new markets and meeting many innovative companies overcomes the fatigue.  We also feel proud of our organization.  This whole experiment – the Green Build Road Show, our partnerships with the private sector and our participation in the Green Build Show in Phoenix — was driven by the “field” – that is, the Commercial Service people overseas and in the national offices.  Several of us in Europe grasped that Green Build was a growth opportunity and started developing the notion of a Road Show.  Our colleagues in the United States jumped on board and our folks in Headquarters supported us.  Then we went to the private sector to find marketing partners and their positive response confirmed we were on to something.

What’s so cool is that we brought this together in a very 21st Century style – we coalesced around the power of an idea and we pieced the rest together as we went along.  Dozens, maybe hundreds, of people collaborated across nine time zones, with no guarantees of success or promises of particular reward.  The Commercial Service DNA seems to include genes for both entrepreneurship and altruism.

We’ve learned a lot from thinkers at Carnegie Mellon, the National Renewable Energy Lab, the Green Build Council – and of course from the companies we met.  Our challenge is helping them succeed in overseas markets, and for that we can draw on years of experience.  It feels really good when you offer  ideas and see lights flashing in an entrepreneur’s eyes.  On Wednesday, I told a start up that they were selling themselves short – that we could help them take a much more ambitious approach to the European market, despite their limited resources.  After talking to a couple of my colleagues, they circled back to tell me they wanted to go for it!

Al Gore and Sheryl Crowe energized several thousand Green Build participants on Wednesday night – giving us a sense that, through supporting American innovation, we’re making our own contribution to saving the planet.

All of us sense that the Road Show is just the beginning. This sector is still ramping up – and we want to be players.  So, where do we go from here?  Already we have a couple of big events on the horizon – the Bright Green Pavilion at the COP 15 in Copenhagen and the Green Industries Trade Mission we’re doing with FedEx in April.  Beyond that, we want to expand and deepen our partnerships with top research institutions, with our private sector partners and with associations.  For the rest, we’ll move with the needs of American companies as this exciting sector continues to unfold.


The Green Build Road Show Hits the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

November 6, 2009

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Frank Carrico is the Regional Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also served the U.S. Commercial Service in Iraq, Brazil, Ukraine, Japan, and Germany.

We’ve had a great stop in Denver.  Our Commercial Service office here, under expert guidance from Paul Bergman, coordinated an in-depth visit to Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today.  While on the road, the Commercial Officers are not only highlighting market opportunities in Europe to the sustainable building clients we meet, but we’re learning an incredible amount about the green technologies that make the United States a global leader in this area.  That’s why we’re at NREL.

We’ve had briefings on NREL’s programs that were focused on development and commercialization of new technologies in building energy efficiency, biofuels, and alternative power production, with particular emphasis on integrating innovative photovoltaics to yield lower and more competitive cost of production of solar cells for kilowatt hours (Kwh) of energy.  NREL is DOE’s only laboratory of its twelve research facilities that is focused on developing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies (EERE).  A critical part of the lab’s mission is the acceleration and transfer of NREL technology into existing energy markets.  NREL’s Partnership Development programs for its industry partners foster the integration and application of NREL’s R&D.  These programs are allowing nascent renewable energy companies to accelerate entry into the private marketplace; become cost-competitive; work with worldwide partners in renewable energy; and, expand markets in the U.S. and overseas.

NREL’s $460M budget for 2009 includes $110 million of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which is being used to increase collaboration through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) and to expand international cooperation with foreign governments.    Most recently, NREL has become a founding partner of SolarTac Technology Acceleration Center for establishing a major commercialization center in Aurora on the outskirts of Denver for integrated photovoltaics and energy efficiency technology commercialization. Other founding partners include SunEdison, Xcel, and Abengoa Solar of Spain.  NREL expects that at least 30 companies will become part of SolarTac within the next year.

Commercial Officers and Specialists offered suggestions on how our domestic and international offices could assist NREL and DOE with its work in overseas markets and to open international markets for U.S. companies working with NREL on innovative technologies.  DOE is already working with CS Stockholm and Copenhagen on special presentations at its Bright Green trade event in December in Copenhagen during the UN COP-15 Climate Change negotiations.

Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officerss speaking with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter

Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officerss speaking with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (right). (Photo Department of Commerce)

Following our whirlwind site visit at NREL, Paul Bergman and the CS office took us downtown for a special visit with Governor Bill Ritter.  Each of us had the chance to introduce our work in our markets to the Governor and to explain how we could help with increasing export sales for Colorado companies.  In particular, we had the opportunity to explain how the Fedex-sponsored April trade mission to Europe would be especially valuable for Colorado companies.  The Governor promised that his office would follow up with us on the trade mission and will explore closer cooperation on our export programs.