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National Renewable Energy Laboratory Postdoctoral Researcher – Circular Economy and PV Sustainability in Golden, Colorado

Posting Title

Postdoctoral Researcher – Circular Economy and PV Sustainability



CO - Golden


Position Type

Postdoc (Fixed Term)


Hours Per Week



Job Description

The Postdoctoral Researcher 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.

Environmental sustainability has always been at the core of NREL’s mission. Now circular economy is being added as another branch of this tree. Two projects anchor this Postdoctoral candidate’s position. The first will support a flagship DOE Solar program report establishing a baseline of understanding and then a vision for the future of this technology. The Postdoc will, under the supervision of the mentor, lead the synthesis of what’s known about environmental benefits and impacts of solar technologies as well as the state of knowledge with regard to circular economy, pointing to key gaps of knowledge and practice. The second project will review available tools relevant to the circular economy for all clean energy technologies. The combination of these will allow the postdoc to gain depth and breadth in the circular economy, identify opportunities for future research and publish. Along the way, it is expected that other projects relevant to the skill sets employed with these two projects will arise in this growth area for NREL.

A strong applicant will have enough scientific/engineering knowledge of the design and operation of solar energy technologies, especially PV, to ground the work of this position. Application of the required qualifications to solar energy technologies will be prioritized.

The applicant should have a strong publication record compared to peers at similar levels of education and career experience, and the ability to give clear oral presentations on progress and results. The applicant should desire to work independently within a team environment, and ideally will be able to “manage up” to ensure they have the resources needed to complete assignments on time. Interdisciplinary curiosity, resourcefulness, and internal motivation will enable the postdoc 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.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • Demonstrated experience in researching the circular economy.

  • Experience with a systems analysis approach especially life cycle assessment, material flow analysis or similar.

  • Knowledge of PV technologies, with preference to those whom have conducted research (whether analysis or on PV systems with published works resulting.

  • Experience developing or troubleshooting difficult models.

  • Robust analytical skills and demonstrated ability to apply theoretical concepts to a real-world situation.

  • Creative problem solving skills.

  • Experience coding. Python is preferred but other languages may be acceptable if the candidate has demonstrated their initiative and capability to quickly learn coding languages.

  • Demonstrated experience as a self-motivated learner with demonstrated ability to grasp new concepts quickly and to develop new skills and models as needed.


Basic Qualifications

Must be a recent related PhD graduate within the last three years.

PhD in a quantitative field relevant to sustainability, such as engineering (multiple disciplines such as civil/environmental, mechanical, chemical, industrial), economics, or interdisciplinary degrees in sustainability science or industrial ecology.

Cover letter required


Additional Required Qualifications

Preferred Qualifications

  • Scientific and/or engineering knowledge of the design and operation of solar energy technologies, especially PV, to ground the work of this position. Application of the required qualifications to solar energy technologies will be prioritized.

  • Programming skills related to working with quantitative data analysis, such as experience in energy modeling and programming and fluency in Python or similarly functional language, and ability to quickly pick up other languages.

  • Ability to publish in high-profile journals.


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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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