300 days of sunshine is just the beginning
Renewable energy is a burgeoning industry within the state of Colorado. The world faces a finite supply of fossil fuels and in response to a dramatic shift in federal policies, programs and budget priorities, Colorado is emerging as a leader in many areas of renewable energy including solar, wind, bio-fuels, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass technologies.
According to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation Energy Colorado Industry Cluster Profile, Colorado ranks sixth in the nation for its 2014 concentration of renewable energy employment with 23,410 employees. The 2013 average salary for a renewable energy worker was $77,360 ($75,500 nationwide). In fact, Colorado's renewable energy payroll in 2013 was more than $1.7 billion.
Solar Technology Acceleration Center - SolarTAC
The Solar Technology Acceleration Center (SolarTAC) in Aurora is the largest test facility for solar technologies in the United States, occupying 74-acres at the 1,762-acre Aurora Campus for Renewable Energy (ACRE). It is an integrated, world-class test facility where the solar industry can research, test, validate, and demonstrate solar technologies. Its mission is to increase the efficiency of solar energy products and rapidly deploy them to the commercial market. SolarTAC is a partnership of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory (National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado School of Mines), the city of Aurora, Xcel Energy, Abengoa Solar, SunEdison, and MRIGlobal. SolarTAC provides a solar facility where member companies can bring their technologies for testing and demonstration, particularly solar technologies at the early commercial or near-commercial stage of development. SolarTAC also helps promote better interface between technology developers and solar energy users by offering solar equipment suppliers an opportunity to show potential customers new technologies performing under actual field conditions.
SolarTAC is divided into three areas including: Common Areas, a Solar Thermal Area (solar to heat technology) and a Photovoltaics Area (solar to electricity technology) and conisists of three areas of research: proprietary, shared among members and public.
Sponsoring members include Electric Power Research Insititute, Amonix, Allisance for Sustainable Energy, and HITTITE Solar Energy. MRI is actively recruiting additional companies to participate and invest at the site.
SolarTAC is also open to research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and by the national labs like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) located in Golden, Colo.
Currently, 68 of the original 74 acres have been developed or are committed for future projects. SolarTAC is negotiating with the city of Aurora for an additional 200 acres that would create opportunities for workforce training and microgrid applications.