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The presence of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado is a $714 million annual boost to the state's economy, according to data compiled in a soon-to-be-released analysis by the University of Colorado.

NREL is the nation's primary research and development laboratory for the advancement of clean and renewable energy, and for maximizing energy efficiency.

NREL's full-time workforce has grown from 917 in 2007 to 2,300 today.

"In addition to more than tripling the economic impact to the state in the last three years, NREL has created almost 1,400 new jobs in Colorado and helped people get back to work," says Dwayne Romero, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development. "Colorado's renewable energy industry is one of our key business sectors, and it is well-positioned for future growth because of the continuing success of NREL."

NREL has helped wind and solar energy, biomass and alternative fuels gain traction in the marketplace, helping to vault Colorado into sixth place nationally in the total value of clean energy jobs, according to the analysis. Between 1998 and 2007, clean energy jobs in Colorado grew by 18.2%. As of the end of 2009, Colorado had 17,000 clean energy jobs.

Construction at NREL in fiscal year 2010 totaled $96 million, highlighted by the new 220,000 square-foot research support facility, a building that is a showcase for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act continues to accelerate construction of the NREL’s campus, expanding the laboratory’s capacity for renewable energy and energy-efficiency research, development and deployment, according to the analysis.

As of August 2010, NREL had 329 contracts with Colorado companies totaling $414 million. NREL had cooperative research and development agreements with 23 Colorado companies and technical service agreements with 24 Colorado firms as of summer 2010.

The examination of NREL’s economic impact on Colorado by the Business Research Division of the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business used the Insight Colorado Model to quantify the economic and fiscal impacts of NREL. Economic benefits refer to dollars generated and distributed throughout the economy due to the existence of an establishment.

SOURCE: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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