There was a good write-up in Saturday’s Rocky Mountain News Business section about Colorado’s advantages and disadvantages in the developing renewable energy sector. Among the advantages: great location for solar, very good location for wind. It rightly recognizes Gov. Bill Ritter’s leadership on this issue by conveying his vision for possibilities in our state. More big positives: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and all the research universities in the area (Mines, CSU, CU).
Instead of just blindly moving forward without taking into account potential stumbling blocks, the article also details some disadvantages Colorado faces: financial incentives that are unable to compete with Texas, Ohio, or Michigan and cheap labor. The labor part, as first mentioned in the article, fails to acknowledge the underlying issue: lack of qualified laborers. It does go into some detail on this later in the article. The article does go into detail about an advantage areas on the coasts enjoy: large collections of big cities. Denver isn’t all that big and there’s not any big cities within hundreds of miles of it. That’s puts us at a disadvantage compared to Southern California, the Carolinas, Portland to Seattle, or Texas.
Perhaps the biggest gear in this fairly nascent machine is the political will. I don’t think the article did this part justice. Without a populace demanding investment in research and infrastructure, Colorado wouldn’t be as far along the path we’re currently on.
One quick number to demonstrate what’s at stake: Spanish companies plan to spend between $7 and $10 billion in the U.S. during the next few years. That’s just one country. I would argue that Colorado sure could use part of that kind of investment, mostly because I imagine it would act as seed money. The renewable energy sector of our economy is poised for substantial long-term growth. Money spent and invested in developing technologies and bringing them to the market will only benefit us more as time goes on.
Can Colorado make itself look attractive enough for companies to bring their resources? This sector of the economy will be built, there’s no doubt about that. It would benefit the state if we can be nearer the top of that sector than the bottom. Thank goodness we have folks like Gov. Ritter and thousands of hard-working citizens who recognize this.
Cross-posted at SquareState.