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Siemens to open Colo. wind turbine R&D center

At Windpower conference, German company announces that a planned facility in collaboration with National Renewable Energy Lab will contribute to state's green-economy effort.

Siemens Energy plans to open its first U.S. wind turbine research and development facility in Boulder, Colo.

The energy sector of the German company made the announcement on Tuesday in Houston, Texas, at Windpower 2008, the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference.

The center will concentrate on everything from designing better wind turbine components such as aerodynamic blades to conducting atmospheric-science research.

The strongest wind turbine Siemens currently makes has a capacity of 3.6 megawatts, according to the company. The one being used in Colorado will have a 2.3-megawatt capacity. Siemens

As part of the plan, Siemens Energy will collaborate with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to install a Siemens 2.3-megawatt (MW) wind turbine at the National Wind Technology Center located just outside of Boulder.

"The creation of these green jobs is good for our economy and our communities and will help set us on a path of greater energy independence," Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said in a statement.

The Siemens R&D center, however, will create only about "12 to 15 green-collar positions in the first year," with a total of 50 new jobs in Colorado by 2013, according to Siemens' own estimates. And those jobs may not be what many economic reports predict could supplant lost jobs for blue-collar professionals.

Most of the employees of the new Siemens facility will be "new hires with a Ph.D. or master's degree in the desired disciplines," according to the Siemens announcement.

Siemens already has wind turbine R&D centers in Copenhagen, Denmark; Aachen, Germany; Delft, the Netherlands; and Keele, United Kingdom. The U.S. facility will share gained wind technology knowledge with those facilities.

The announcement follows news that increased costs in materials, coupled with engineering challenges, are hindering Europe's push to use more renewable sources like wind energy by 2020, according to a report by Cambridge Energy Research Associates.