Colorado Climbing to the Forefront of Clean Energy

 As the United States struggles to add jobs on a consistent and robust basis, we are always on the look out for success stories on the job front. Well, one glimmer of hope comes from the state of Colorado, which has seen tremendous job growth in the clean energy space, well ahead of the national average.

According to a 2011 study by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC), between 2005 and 2010, the Colorado clean-tech industry grew by 32.7% which was over three times the national average.  In addition, clean technology was the only sector within the state to grow in 2010, with 1,600 companies employing over 19,000 workers.

“Colorado ranks fourth nationally in the total number of clean-energy jobs and we’re still growing and adding jobs,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver EDC. “With the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in our backyard, the nation’s second-highest renewable energy standard and copious amounts of wind and sunshine, our region truly has become a hub for clean-technology.”

Certainly having NREL in state provides not only the institutional knowledge but also the credibility for Colorado’s renewable energy program to flourish. In fact, Ecotech Institute, the nation’s first and only college entirely dedicated to renewable energy and sustainable design, chose Colorado last year for its flagship campus. “Ecotech Institute chose to launch its first location in Colorado for many reasons, including its location, entrepreneurial culture, and passion for green job growth,” said Michael Seifert, president of Ecotech Institute. “Colorado’s culture, natural beauty and green-leaning attitude fosters greener lifestyles, education and careers.”

So what kind of clean energy companies are located in Colorado. Vestas, the world’s leading manufacturer of wind turbines, has announced that it would invest more than $1 billion at four manufacturing plants in Colorado. Total employment in the state is expected to reach 2,500 workers by full operation. In addition, Aluwind, a supplier to Vestas and Repower Systems, a leading turbine producer in Germany, all moved their headquarters to Colorado.

In addition, Colorado’s solar industry has also seen substantial growth. Last year, over 54.6 megawatts of solar power was installed in Colorado, which involved over 1,600 companies employing more than 19,000 workers, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. This was more than double the amount Colorado installed in 2009 placing Colorado solar fifth in the nation for installed solar power behind California, New Jersey, Nevada, and Arizona.