DENVER (AP) -- Colorado's quest to become a renewable energy leader has received a boost from Siemens Energy's decision to locate a wind turbine research and development center near Boulder.
The German conglomerate expects to employ about 50 people at the center that will focus on research into atmospheric science, aerodynamic blade design and wind turbine structure and reliability.
Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens' wind power business unit, said in a telephone interview from Orlando Thursday that the company chose Boulder partly because of the proximity of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the National Wind Technology Center and universities.
He said work at the new facility will complement research Siemens is conducting in Germany, the Netherlands and other countries.
Siemens and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden will install one of the company's 2.3-megawatt wind turbines south of Boulder to test new features and reliability.
Nauen said the Boulder area ''offers an ideal combination'' of expertise, test facilities and the opportunity to recruit people from the universities.
Gov. Bill Ritter hailed Siemens' selection of Colorado as an indication of the state's growing ''new energy economy.'' The governor has set a goal of attracting renewable energy research and manufacturing operations to the state.
''We continue to establish ourselves as a worldwide leader in renewable, sustainable and modern energy,'' Ritter said in a written statement.
Siemens manufactures its blades in Fort Madison, Iowa. Vestas Wind Systems, meanwhile, opened its first U.S. blade manufacturing plant in Windsor in March. The Denmark-based company said in May that it plans to build the world's largest factory for wind turbine towers in Colorado.
Earlier this week, Vestas said it will open its U.S. research center in Houston.
Nauen of Siemens said the U.S. is increasingly attractive to European wind-power companies because of state and federal promotion of renewable energy.
Colorado is one of several states that require utilities to get a certain percentage of their electricity from such renewable energy sources as wind and solar.
''And the wind resources in the United States are simply fantastic,'' Nauen said.
Siemens expects to hire 12 to 15 employees the first year at the research center and five to 10 every year after that for a total staff of about 50. Most of the employees will have doctorates or master's degrees.
The research center is expected to open soon. Asked when the first employees would be hired, Nauen answered: ''I hope yesterday.''