September 26, 2008
Historic groundbreaking sets stage for alternative energy production
FLINT - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, today in Flint dedicated one of the state's first Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE). The project, which will produce alternative energy from waste removed from the city's wastewater treatment plant, is a collaboration of Swedish Biogas International (SBI), Kettering University, and the city of Flint, with support from the C.S. Mott Foundation, Swedish agencies, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
"By connecting innovative companies like Swedish Biogas International with our world-class research facilities and universities, we can create jobs and make Michigan the North American epicenter of the alternative energy industry," Granholm said. "This is all part of our aggressive strategy to diversify our economy while becoming the state that helps end our nation's dependence on foreign oil."
Joining Governor Granholm and the King in today's celebration were Flint Mayor Donald Williamson; U.S. Ambassador to Sweden and Flint native Michael Wood; Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Jonas Hafstrom; U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow; MEDC President and CEO James C. Epolito; Kettering University President Dr. Stanley Liberty; Kettering University Provost Dr. Michael Harris; State Representative Lee Gonzales (D-Flint); and Mott Foundation President William White. The celebration included members of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, Swedish Women's Education Association, the Jenny Lind Club of Michigan, the Swedish American Heritage Society, and a large contingent of Kettering students and members of the Flint community.
"The mission and vision of Kettering University embrace the spirit of this collaboration," President Liberty said. "Kettering is committed to applying its intellectual and physical assets to help achieve the goals of this partnership and help build a ‘back to the future' economy for this region."
"The city of Flint is honored to have His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden visiting our great city," said Mayor Williamson. "This project represents a great new opportunity for the citizens of Flint. The new Center of Energy Excellence is one of the first in the state and will enable our city to be on the cutting edge of biofuel technology. We are proud to be a large part of this project and partner with Swedish Biogas, Kettering University, and the MEDC to help develop a new alternative fuel and benefit the citizens of Flint and Michigan."
The COEE program, proposed by the governor in her State of the State address in January and signed into law this summer, brings companies, academic institutions, and local and state government together to support cutting-edge research and development and pioneer new alternative-energy technology.
Swedish Biogas International will utilize $4 million from the COEE program to launch a waste-to-energy/bio-methane center at the city of Flint's wastewater treatment facility. The project draws upon 15 years of experience that Swedish Biogas has in operating three waste-to-energy facilities in Sweden. Kettering University is a partner in the project and will collaborate with Linköping University in Sweden. Kettering will work toward adapting municipal vehicles so they can utilize the bio-methane as fuel. Kettering's incubator will also serve as the initial headquarters for SBI's North American operations, providing a launching point for expanding the use of this technology throughout Michigan and North America.
"This project in Flint will be a major building block in creating the state's alternative energy industry and lay the groundwork for creating new jobs in Michigan," Epolito said. "We look forward to a new growth industry coming from this investment today."
The Swedish Biogas International project is one of three Centers of Energy Excellence designated earlier this week by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), including an alternative energy partnership in Ann Arbor between Sakti3 and the University of Michigan that will focus on next-generation lithium battery technologies and processes and a cellulosic ethanol plant near Kinross in the eastern Upper Peninsula operated by Massachusetts-based Mascoma in partnership with Michigan State and Michigan Tech universities.
The Swedish Biogas International project in Flint is a result of Governor Granholm's investment mission to Sweden in August 2007. Granholm traveled to Sweden last year to meet with government and company officials in an effort to develop alternative energy partnerships and encourage investment in Michigan. Sweden is a recognized global leader in renewable fuels with more than 65 percent of heating needs of all buildings derived from biomass waste.
"We are honored today to welcome the King of Sweden to Genesee County for the groundbreaking of the new Flint Center of Bioenergy," State Representative Gonzales said. "A recognized international leader in alternative energy, Sweden's ability to generate biogas is decades ahead of the U.S., providing a roadmap for Michigan. With this proven, time-tested technology and with our new partners from Sweden, we are in the position to further strengthen Michigan's competitive advantage in biofuels and create alternative energy jobs in Michigan and across North America. The potential employment opportunities are endless!"
In July, legislation was enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support, authorizing the MSF to allocate up to $45 million to establish and administer the COEE program designed to support the development, growth and sustainability of alternative energy clusters by identifying or locating a base company with the necessary business and supply-chain infrastructure. The COEE program will match the base companies with universities, national labs, and training centers to accelerate next-generation research, workforce development, and commercialization.
# # #