Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Colorado

Colorado, known as the Centennial State, is also known for its many clean technology and sustainability highlights. The state is always looking for new projects to employ that will aid the state in reaching its renewable energy goals and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by employing renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, including schools, hotels, businesses, and homeowners. Listed below is a list of just ten of the highlights of cleantech in the state of Colorado.

1 ) Colorado Cleantech Industry Association. The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association was established in 2008 and is a statewide organization that is devoted to the promotion of the clean technologies industries within the state of Colorado. The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association is the only industry led and focused cleantech group in the entire state. Their mission is “to provide advocacy, public policy leadership, development, and education in the cleantech sector.” In 2011, the CCIA became one of the founding chapters for the national Advanced Energy Economy. CCIA’s partnership with AEE enables the organizations to work together to leverage success at the state and regional level for impact on the national stage through outreach, policy efforts, communications and media programs.

2 ) GE and PrimeStar Solar. In April 2011 General Electric Co. selected Colorado as the site for a new solar-panel plant that will be the biggest in the country, bringing 355 jobs to the Denver suburb of Aurora. The new plant will be up and running a year earlier than projected with the first panels coming off the line in 2012 and being commercially available in 2013. The plant will make enough photovoltaic panels annually to generate power for 80,000 U.S. homes, or about 400 megawatts. GE plans to invest about $300 million in the facility, bringing its investment in its solar business to about $600 million. The technology to be used in the factory was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden and PrimeStar Solar, an Arvada, CO-based company GE bought in April.

3 ) Colorado Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development. The Colorado Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development (CREED) is a joint effort between the State of Colorado, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and affiliated stakeholders committed to clean energy economic development. CREED’s mission is to bring together stakeholders and service providers that support the creation and growth of cleantech companies in Colorado, contributing to economic development in the state. By providing a unique facility where organizations, industry, researchers, scientists, and engineers can interact and discuss important technical, business, market, and policy issues with entrepreneurs, investors, analysts, and policy makers, CREED connects the cleantech economic development puzzle pieces together. CREED provides the following capabilities to support the development and growth of cleantech companies – innovation pipeline, hands-on management and coaching, access to capital, access to skilled workforce, policy impact, and facilities.

4 ) Colorado Renewable Energy Society. The Colorado Renewable Energy Society is a nonprofit organization where the members work together to raise awareness regarding the environmental and economic benefits associated with renewable energy and energy efficiency. The mission of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society “is to inspire an era of clean energy innovation, speeding the transition to a sustainable energy economy in Colorado by advancing education, policy, and economic development.” The society advocates various technologies and policies that would increase the utilization of energy efficiency and renewable energy items.

5 ) Fort Carson, CO. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has long recognized the strategic importance of energy to its mission, and is working to reduce energy consumption, as well as to enhance energy security by drawing on local clean energy sources. The U.S. Army’s Fort Carson installation was selected to serve as a prototype for net zero energy assessment and planning. Net zero energy is a concept of energy self-sufficiency based on minimizing demand and using local renewable energy resources. A complete net zero solution considers all uses of energy within an installation for buildings, transportation, community infrastructure, and industry. Fort Carson self-nominated to become a Net Zero installation in March 2011 to challenge its already robust energy, water and waste sustainability goals and to advance the resource-conscious posture of today’s Army. Operating as a net zero water installation, for example, means the Mountain Post will conserve and re-purpose water. One way to achieve this goal is to reuse gray water generated from showers and laundries for irrigation of lawns and trees. Additionally, Fort Carson will reduce, reuse and recover waste. Converting appropriate waste materials into usable resources will ultimately reduce and eliminate much of the need for costly landfill disposal.

6 ) CU CLeantech. CU Cleantech is dedicated to promoting the University of Colorado’s Cleantech growth through commercialization, student engagement, and industry collaborations. CU Cleantech was launched in 2011 to build upon the University’s leadership in cleantech and renewable energy research and commercialization. The organization was founded with the purpose of positioning the University as the main regional hub of innovation and commercialization within the rapidly expanding cleantech ecosystem by creating a collaborative initiative that fosters entrepreneurship, industry involvement and student opportunities. In late 2011, the University of Colorado Boulder was selected as one of six recipients that will receive a total of $2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a network of student-focused cleantech regional competitions as part of a broader strategy to expand the nation’s renewable energy efforts. CU Cleantech manages this highly competitive program.

7 ) Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. The state of Colorado is part of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, a public interest organization that includes Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and looks to increase energy efficiency. Because the area is seen as “lagging” in areas of energy efficiency efforts, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project looks to bring the area up to speed and create programs that will aid in improving energy efficiency in the commercial sector, industrial sector, as well as cities and counties.

8 ) The Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is a research partnership among the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Colorado’s premier research universities—Colorado State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the Colorado School of Mines. The Collaboratory is a one-of-a-kind partnership that works with industry partners, public agencies, and other universities and colleges to: create and speed the commercialization of renewable energy technologies, energy management systems, and energy efficiency; support economic growth in Colorado and the nation with renewable energy industries and; educate the nation’s finest energy researchers, technicians, and workforce. The Collaboratory pursues its missions through six research centers focused on: biorefining and biofuels, solar photoconversion, solar technology acceleration, wind, carbon management and energy efficiency and management.

9 ) Colorado State University’s EECL. In August 2011, Popular Science named CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) one of nation’s top 25 academic laboratories. Based in the College of Engineering, the EECL is one of the nation’s largest independent energy laboratories and a world leader in developing large-scale solutions to global energy problems, with particular emphasis on engine technology, smart electric grids, advanced biofuels and energy technology. The lab was founded in 1992 under the direction of Bryan Willson, a mechanical engineering professor who has been named to the “Scientific American 10” honor roll for innovations that benefit humanity. A major goal of the laboratory is to prepare students for the workforce through hands-on learning. In June 2011, Wired magazine singled out the EECL in its listing of Fort Collins as one of “The Emerging Epicenters” for innovation and high-tech job growth in green technology.

10 ) Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association was established in 1989 and is an award winning nonprofit organization looking to lead the solar industry in Colorado. The mission of the association is to “expand solar markets and to generate jobs and prosperity for the people of Colorado. Together with hundreds of solar business members we work to advance solar policy, remove market barriers, highlight emerging trends, and promote solar outreach and education.” In 2011, the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association received the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Renewable Energy Innovation Award for Colorado’s Fair Permit Act.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He is also author of The 2012 Cleantech Directory. He can be reached at

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