As I was driving through Denver yesterday on my way to the Aspen Institute Environmental Forum, the Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary came to the opening ceremony of two different wind factories in the Denver area.

Danish-based Vestas, the world's largest wind company, has invested $300 million to build up the company's wind manufacturing capability in Brighton, a suburb of Denver. The investment will result in a total of 1,350 new jobs in two factories. The first will produce 2000 blades annually. A second factory in Brighton will produce the highly engineered nacelle component — the van-sized "hub" that converts the rotating blades into energy.

A third factory will be opened in Pueblo, Colo., to build the towers to support the turbines and nacelles, creating 400 additional jobs.

Prince Frederik made reference to our challenging economic times and said that investing in renewables is the solution to getting out of recession. He said that in the 1970's Denmark was faced with a major recession and pulled out largely by divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy. "Denmark is economically competitive not in spite of these efforts, but because of them."

Wind now accounts for about 20 percent of Denmark's energy supply. But the U.S. may be gearing up to do some catching up. According to the press release (PDF):

The U.S. broke all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358 MW of new wind capacity, representing an investment of 17 billion USD and bringing the number of people employed in the wind industry to 85,000.

Following his Colorado visit, Prince Frederik went to Blair, Neb., to visit yet another groudbreaking for a Danish-based cleantech company called Novazyme which produces ethanol enzymes. 

Danish royalty opens Colorado wind factories
The Danes are helping kick-start Colorado's green energy economy.