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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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