Skip to main content

News Release: NREL, Universities Hail Renewable Energy 'Collaboratory' Bill

June 8, 2006

Denver, Colo. — Leaders of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University and the University of Colorado welcomed Governor Owens' signature on House Bill 1322 — legislation that provides funding to a new Colorado renewable energy research collaboration.

NREL and the three Colorado research universities have been working together since March to create the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory.

The Collaboratory will receive up to $2 million per year for three years, beginning in fiscal year 2007. These monies can be used only as matching funds to enable the Collaboratory to qualify for federal and private research projects.  NREL and the universities will pay for all overhead costs of the Collaboratory from their existing budgets.  In addition, the legislation requires that, if the Collaboratory uses any state monies as matching funds, those monies must be repaid to the state as the Collaboratory earns income from technologies developed and transferred to private industry.

"The National Renewable Energy Laboratory applauds Governor Owens, Senator Salazar and the Colorado Legislature for advancing renewable energy in Colorado,” said NREL Director Dan Arvizu.  “We look forward to a long and productive collaboration with our Colorado university partners to enable the state to become a national leader in renewable energy science, technology development and education."

"This legislation is an exciting new development for the University of Colorado and other Colorado institutions,” said CU President Hank Brown.  “Mobilizing our expertise in renewable energy along with the resources at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will not only foster pioneering research, but will place Colorado on the map as a vital leader in renewable energy research. This important economic project for Colorado would not have materialized without the support of Governor Bill Owens, Senator Salazar, Senator Abel Tapia, and Representative Bernie Buescher."

Colorado State University President Larry Penley said, "Colorado State University, in concert with our renewable energy Collaboratory partners, is dedicated to economic development in Colorado while providing solutions for a reliable, clean and secure energy future. Colorado State University is actively involved in energy technology research and development on biofuels, solar cell production, smart power grids, wind systems and biomass conversion."

"Access to clean and affordable energy is essential to the economic well-being of our state, our nation and the world," Colorado School of Mines President John Trefny said.  "The development of energy resources and associated technologies has been a major part of the Colorado School of Mines mission since its very beginning.  Mines looks forward to working with the Collaboratory to ensure Colorado's continued leadership in this critical field."

United States Senator Ken Salazar remarked:  "I am proud Colorado will be home to this innovative collaboration between our leading research institutions and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and am confident its creation will help lead us to energy independence and reduce our dependence on foreign oil." 

“This idea is a direct off-shoot of the Renewable Energy Summit I hosted in January, and a follow-up planning session I hosted with the presidents of CU, CSU and Mines, along with NREL’s director," Salazar said.  "The Summit, where representatives from the entire energy community came together to share their thoughts and ideas on renewable energy and spell out its potential, spawned many other ideas for action, which we continue to pursue."

Renewable energy includes a broad range of current and potential energy sources, including solar and wind energy; biofuels that can be produced from agricultural crops and forest products such as ethanol and biodiesel; geothermal energy from beneath the Earth's surface for heating and cooling; hydrogen fuel cells; and other emerging technologies.  Federal, state and private investments in renewable energy research are increasing rapidly. 

Although the formal establishment of the Collaboratory is still in process, NREL and the Universities have already joined forces to compete for a contract that will be issued by the U.S. Department of Energy for research on the utilization of solar energy.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is the Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy research and development.  The Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University and the University of Colorado all have strong research programs in renewable energy and energy efficiency. By working in collaboration, these four Colorado institutions will enhance the state's reputation as a renewable energy and energy efficiency leader.

The Collaboratory will emphasize the development of new technologies and the advancement of existing technologies for rapid transfer to private industry for commercial development.  This research and technology transfer program will attract new renewable energy enterprises to Colorado, adding to the state's economic vitality.

—Gary Schmitz