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The Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Ener­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ry (RAEL) is a unique new research, devel­op­ment, project imple­men­ta­tion, and com­mu­ni­ty out­reach facil­i­ty based at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley in the Ener­gy and Resources Group and the Depart­ment of Nuclear Engi­neer­ing. RAEL focus­es on design­ing, test­ing, and dis­sem­i­nat­ing renew­able and appro­pri­ate ener­gy sys­tems. The lab­o­ra­to­ry’s mis­sion is to help these tech­nolo­gies real­ize their full poten­tial to con­tribute to envi­ron­men­tal­ly sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in both indus­tri­al­ized and devel­op­ing nations while also address­ing the cul­tur­al con­text and range of poten­tial social impacts of any new tech­nol­o­gy or resource man­age­ment system.

The work in RAEL is guid­ed by the prin­ci­ples of use-inspired basic research, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach­es to the needs that ener­gy ser­vices can pro­vide, and a ded­i­ca­tion to under­stand­ing and address­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties and risks in the imple­men­ta­tion of nov­el ener­gy gen­er­a­tion and man­age­ment pro­grams. At one lev­el, the goal for RAEL is to update, inte­grate and nur­ture a col­lab­o­ra­tive syn­the­sis of E. F. Schu­macher’sSmall is Beau­ti­ful appro­pri­ate tech­nol­o­gy and devel­op­ment phi­los­o­phy with the ener­gy indus­try as it exists today. On anoth­er lev­el, it is to pro­mote sus­tain­able devel­op­ment that includes deep cuts in green­house gas emis­sions and resource consumption.

RAEL will study how to evolve the cur­rent ener­gy infra­struc­ture through analy­sis of coal, oil, and inte­grat­ed fos­sil-fuel/­fu­el cells sys­tems, bio­mass ener­gy, and com­bi­na­tions of ener­gy-effi­cien­cy and renew­ables, as well as entire­ly new long-term ener­gy options for indus­tri­al­ized, decen­tral­ized, and rur­al ener­gy needs.

Today, over one bil­lion peo­ple obtain most of their ener­gy ser­vices from wood, char­coal, agri­cul­tur­al wastes and dung (bio­mass fuels), over two bil­lion peo­ple have no access to elec­tric­i­ty, and sev­er­al hun­dred mil­lion more only have recourse to a lim­it­ed, unre­li­able, or impos­si­bly expen­sive sup­ply. Despite the tremen­dous social, eco­nom­ic, health, and envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of wide­spread access to envi­ron­men­tal­ly clean ener­gy, many nations are unable to main­tain even their cur­rent elec­tri­cal grids, let alone afford the cost of extend­ing elec­tri­cal capac­i­ty to ser­vice the major­i­ty of their pop­u­la­tions. The lack of basic ener­gy resources and inef­fi­cient and unsus­tain­able ener­gy prac­tices are per­haps the largest con­trib­u­tors to human, envi­ron­men­tal, and glob­al health prob­lems today.

Fur­ther read­ing: AAAS Mem­ber Spot­light on Dan Kam­men & RAEL

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Energy & Resources Group
310 Barrows Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-3050
Phone: (510) 642-1640
Fax: (510) 642-1085
Email: ergdeskb@berkeley.edu


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