Collaboratory Receives Economic Development Honor, Major Progress After 18 Months

The Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory was honored today by the Metro Denver Economic Development Council with its Chair’s Award for Outstanding Efforts in Economic Development.

The award was presented to each of the founders of the Collaboratory – the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The Collaboratory is receiving this award after launching just 18 months ago. In February 2007, the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), Colorado State University (CSU), the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) joined forces to perform research in the development of new energy technologies and to transfer these discoveries as rapidly as possible to the marketplace.

"Nowhere in the world has an asset such as this unique research partnership. Instead of marketing their individual programs and research, the four founding members present themselves to the world as one single entity through which sponsored research, public-private partnerships, and technical consultation are available," said Kittie Hook, senior vice president for corporate services for Fuller Real Estate and Chair of the Metro Denver EDC’s board of governors.

"We have the ideal equation to develop a new energy economy for Colorado. The depth of research talent at the four institutions, the support from our state and federal elected officials and a centralized point of contact that provides the private sponsors easy access to four world-class research institutions are the keys to our success," said David Hiller, the Collaboratory’s executive director.

The Collaboratory has already established two research centers. The first center was the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, known as C2B2. The center will develop new biofuels and biorefining technologies and transfer these advances as rapidly as possible to the private sector. It opened its doors on July 1, 2007 and now boasts 27 private partnerships. Large businesses that have already joined C2B2 include Archers Daniels Midland, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, DuPont, General Motors, Shell Global Solutions, Suncor Energy, Weyerhauser and WR Grace, as well as more than a dozen Colorado renewable energy companies.

C2B2 is conducting 10 research projects that were selected as the most promising by C2B2’s private partners. The projects were selected from a pool of 65 proposals from researchers at the four Collaboratory institutions. The private sponsors of C2B2 have already committed more than $500,000 toward shared research projects and research fellowships, entitling C2B2 to receive an additional $500,000 in state matching funds.

The Collaboratory receives up to $2 million per year from the state for use as matching funds to attract research grants and contracts from federal and private sources.

This April, the Collaboratory launched its second center, the Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion, or CRSP. The ultimate goal of the center is to find ways to directly convert the sun’s energy to low-cost electricity and fuels through new science and technologies. The center will also provide education and training opportunities.

Twelve companies also have joined CRSP as founding members including, Applied Materials, Ascent Solar Technologies, DuPont, Evident Technologies, Konarka, Lockheed Martin, Motech Industries, QuantumSphere, Sharp, Solasta, Sub-One Technology and SunEdison.

"The Collaboratory deserves this honor. In a relatively short time, the Collaboratory has mobilized our new energy expertise housed at our excellent institutions and is delivering results. I also commend its efforts in offering education and job training opportunities to meet the workforce demand of our New Energy Economy," said Governor Bill Ritter.

The current and planned Collaboratory centers will establish education and training programs to serve the growing number of green-collar jobs around the state and country. According to the Metro Denver EDC, direct employment in the renewable-energy sector in the Denver metropolitan area more than doubled to 13,940 in 2007 from 5,760 in 2004.

The United States is witnessing a boom in the green job sector as the products of new energy research and development enter the market at a rapid clip. Yet the number of highly skilled green workers is not keeping pace. The Collaboratory is partnering with Colorado’s community colleges to train the "green collar" work force.

By the end of 2008, the Collaboratory expects to announce:

-An additional solar energy research center that will work on technologies with the potential to enter the solar marketplace near-term. This could include improvements in existing technologies for photovoltaics and concentrating solar power.

-A wind energy research center that will work on modeling, designs and testing of turbine blades and towers. The center will conduct research involving micro-climate forecasting, and electrical and control systems.

Two additional centers are in development, with launch dates in late 2008 or early 2009:

-A carbon management center will focus on carbon capture technologies, carbon sequestration technologies and policy.

-An energy efficiency and management research center that will develop technologies and practices to maximize energy efficiency in engines and buildings and to increase the amount of renewable and distributed power through electric grids.

The Colorado Renewable Energy 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 Colorado School of Mines.

The Collaboratory will work with public agencies, private enterprise, nonprofit institutions and all of Colorado’s universities and colleges to:

-Increase the production and use of energy from renewable resources like wind energy, solar energy, and biofuels

-Support economic growth in Colorado and the nation with renewable energy industries

-Build a renewable energy economy in rural Colorado and rural America

-Establish Colorado as America’s leading center of renewable energy research and production

-Educate our nation’s finest energy researchers, technicians and workforce