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NETL Energy Work with the City of Pittsburgh to be Recognized with Federal Laboratory Consortium Award
Creating Pittsburgh's Energy Future Today

NETL’s work to assist the City of Pittsburgh in its “Clean Energy City of the Future” initiatives will be recognized by the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Mid-Atlantic Region with a state and local economic development award for 2018 during the organization’s regional meeting set for Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Maryland.

The FLC is a formally chartered organization mandated by Congress to promote, educate and facilitate technology transfer among more than 300 federal laboratories, research centers and agencies. Its Mid-Atlantic Region serves as an important link between the public and federal technology, technical expertise, and research and development assets. The FLC Mid-Atlantic Region provides gateway services, networking opportunities, conferences, publications, training, and technology locator assistance across all federal agencies.

Ever since NETL signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Pittsburgh in July 2015, Laboratory personnel have worked to design and implement an innovative, forward-looking infrastructure to make Pittsburgh a “Clean Energy City of the Future.”

A significant feature of the work has been NETL’s ability to use its capabilities and connections to help the city modernize its electric grid through implementation of a “grid of microgrids” concept to update an aging energy infrastructure.

In collaboration with NETL and its partners, the city will implement new distributed energy systems and build upon five existing systems to ultimately create a 21st-century energy generation and distribution infrastructure of nine energy districts. Each system will operate independently or cooperatively with the existing grid; produce steam, water and/or electricity; use a variety of energy sources, including renewables and fossil fuels; and incorporate advanced energy technologies, such as wind turbines, combined heat and power, energy storage devices and more.

Planners anticipate that the project will accelerate innovation by using advanced fossil energy technologies, creating a model for other cities and establishing Pittsburgh as a global energy and technology leader. For example, an NETL-funded prototype solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system that runs solely on clean natural gas, will be installed and tested at Pittsburgh’s NRG Energy Center this fall. The SOFC process that will be used emits virtually no pollutants. 

In its first three years, the Pittsburgh/NETL partnership has overseen additional accomplishments, including plans for:

  • A new combined heat and power plant to serve Uptown District buildings.
  • A planned 2nd Avenue Energy District project that combines garage and rooftop photovoltaic solar and battery storage with electric vehicle charging stations.
  • A planned community-based microgrid that is facilitating redevelopment of a 285-acre East End neighborhood.
  • An NETL techno-economic study that explores geothermal energy extraction and use opportunities in a 178-acre riverfront area.

NETL’s MOU with the City of Pittsburgh created a model of cooperation for federal laboratories seeking to engage with their local communities, demonstrated the powerful impact of the Lab’s mission and spurred valuable economic investments that will benefit the Pittsburgh region for decades to come.

The mission of the FLC is to add value to the federal agencies, laboratories, and their partners to accomplish the rapid integration of research and development resources within the mainstream of the U.S. economy.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory that produces technological solutions for America’s energy challenges. From developing creative innovations and efficient energy systems that make coal more competitive, to advancing technologies that enhance oil and natural gas extraction and transmission processes, NETL research is providing breakthroughs and discoveries that support home-grown energy initiatives, stimulate a growing economy, and improve the health, safety, and security of all Americans. NETL conducts a broad range of research activities that support DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States.