In 2015, Dr. Daniel Laird joined the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on as director of the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), the country’s premier wind energy technology research facility.
Laird joined NREL from DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was manager of the Offshore Wind and Water Power Technologies program, and brings with him over 20 years of wind and water power technology expertise.
“It’s been a very exciting time and a fantastic opportunity,” Laird said of his arrival at NREL. “I was well aware of the caliber of the people and the work happening at the NWTC, and I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of NREL’s mission.”
Trained as a mechanical engineer, Laird began his career working with semiconductors, but didn’t hesitate when the opportunity presented itself to shift his focus toward clean energy technologies.
“It was like a dream come true for me to work in a field so closely aligned with my values and passion for a sustainable, clean energy future,” Laird said. “It’s been a pleasure to work with these technologies and see them advance, hopefully getting to a point where we no longer need to rely on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. There’s still important work to be done to get us there.”
In terms of that work to be done, and his vision for the future of the NWTC, Laird looks ahead to further-developed facilities where researchers can continue to work on tackling the critical challenges confronting the the wind industry. He sees important work yet to be done in wind plant optimization, grid integration of wind energy, and on-site manufacturing of wind turbines, to name a few key areas.
“I’m looking forward to working with our team and our partners to solve big problems with great people and great facilities,” Laird said. “We’re doing something very important for our nation and our planet, and I get to take on those challenges with the best and the brightest. That really motivates me.”