NREL post-doc in circular economy

Dear Colleagues

 NREL is making circular economy a new priority and we are excited to offer a post-doc position for a high-caliber, experienced recent PhD graduate (or with expected graduation at the end of summer) to work on circular economy topics applied to energy technologies and materials. Ideal start date is end of Summer, though we will consider earlier or later start for exceptional candidates. This is primarily a modeling/analysis-based position, though we welcome candidates with experimental experience. NREL offers competitive compensation and benefits for 1 year post-docs that can be extended up to 2 additional years (see for more information about postdoc positions at NREL). We value publishing so that the post-doc develops a track record of accomplishment to find high-caliber research positions after completion, with exceptional candidates (aligned with available programmatic funding) given the opportunity to be promoted to staff positions at NREL. Alberta (Birdie) Carpenter and I will share mentorship. Some of you I know from the PV world, and that is certainly a focus technology, but we will also be evaluating other energy technologies such as batteries, wind turbines/blades, etc.


Please share this position description (posted below) with relevant students you advise and within your Departments, Institutes, labs and networks. If you have suggestions of where else to post this, please let me know. You are welcome to provide recommendations for certain candidates, and candidates are welcome to contact me or Birdie with questions. However, to be considered, all applicants must apply through NREL’s “online recruitment tool” (link found within Applications without cover letter will look deficient compared to those with cover letters.


Thank you for your help in identifying exceptional candidates! And we are wishing you the best for 2019.



Garvin and Birdie



Garvin Heath, PhD

Technology Systems and Impact Analysis Group | Strategic Energy Analysis Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

 Operating Agent, Task 12: Sustainability, IEA Photovoltaics Power Systems

 Senior Research Associate, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, University of Colorado at Boulder


Alberta Carpenter, PhD

Senior Researcher | Strategic Energy Analysis Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

15013 Denver West Parkway | Golden, CO 80401

303.275.4232 | M: 303.526.8931 | #NREL40: View our accomplishments



Postdoctoral Researcher – Circular Economy for Clean Energy Technologies
Requisition #R4142
CO - Golden
Position Type
Postdoc (Fixed Term)
Hours Per Week
Job Summary
The post-doc will join a team of researchers in NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC; who perform environmental sustainability assessments of energy technologies. With objective, technology-neutral analysis, SEAC aims to increase understanding of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, and infrastructure to address U.S. economic, security, and environmental priorities.
SEAC will be providing primary support to defining, developing and supporting the research agenda and activities in the area of circular economy for energy technologies and materials. This will involve leading projects for clients in the Department of Energy as well as developing new externally-funded projects. Initially the work of this post-doc will be focused on collaboration within SEAC, which is comprised of engineers and other quantitative analysts, but since these activities are lab-wide, opportunity for collaboration with scientists and engineers in other parts of the lab (e.g., National Center for Photovoltaics (PV), National Center for Wind Technologies, National Bioenergy Center (which also addresses bioproducts, etc.) can be sought by enterprising candidates.
Starting with a case study on PV, the post-doctoral fellow will develop integrated models of multiple end-of-life fates for energy technologies to gain insight into the economic drivers (under current and alternative policy regimes) of manufacturer and consumer decisions regarding end-of-life choices (recycling, reuse, refurbishment, remanufacturing, and design alternatives such as life extension, service-oriented business models, etc.). After a first case study on PV, additional case studies will be added such as batteries, automotive electronics, and wind turbines. The central approach will be techno-economic analysis (TEA, or cost modeling) of each end-of-life pathway examined in an integrated decision-support framework to compare alternatives or combinations of end-of-life fates. The primary outcome metric is net cost normalized per unit mass or product, considering the value generated from each pathway and the cost of the process. As jumping off points, the NREL team has already developed multiple PV recycling TEA models based on a decade of experience developing well-recognized bottom-up cost models of clean energy technology manufacturing processes as well as trade flow and international competitiveness assessments (through, e.g., NREL’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center, Additional metrics to be considered at least qualitatively include material recovery fraction and criticality of recovered materials; other metrics could be added subsequently such as energy requirements and pollution burdens. Primary data will be input into cost modeling to the extent available.
Preferred qualifications include:
PhD in a strongly quantitative, modeling-oriented field such as applied economics, engineering or interdisciplinary fields such as industrial ecology and material flow analysis. Especially innovative and quantitative public policy candidates may qualify.
A strong applicant will have enough scientific/engineering knowledge of the design and operation of clean energy technologies to ground the primarily analytical work of this position. Experience building one or more of TEA/engineering-economic, consumer choice, agent-based or system-dynamics models is a prerequisite. The post-doc should have demonstrated experience functioning independently, and ideally will be able to “manage up” to ensure they have the resources needed to complete the assignments on time. Interdisciplinary curiosity, resourcefulness, and internal motivation will enable the post-doc to function well in the exciting and busy work environment of the nation’s only national lab focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Ability to publish in high-profile journals is desired, as well as to give excellent oral presentations on progress and results. Creative problem solving and robust analytical skills will also be essential.
Required Education, Experience, and Skills
Must be a recent PhD graduate within the last three years.
Preferred Qualifications
The team at NREL has in-depth knowledge and experience in life cycle assessment (LCA) which will provide a philosophical if not tactical framing for this project, though its tools may not be used directly. Familiarity with LCA methods, tools and databases will nevertheless be helpful.
The ideal candidate will have programming skills related to working with quantitative data analysis, such as:
• Experience in energy modeling and programming
• Fluency in Python or similarly functional language, and ability to quickly pick up other languages
• Experience building techno-economic models
• Optimization software experience
Applicant should have a strong publication record compared to peers at similar levels of education and career experience. Applicant should desire to work independently within a team environment.
Submission Guidelines
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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to secure an environmentally and economically sustainable energy future. With locations in Golden and Boulder, Colorado, and a satellite office in Washington, D.C., NREL is the primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy technologies in the United States.
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