State Creates Two More Centers of Energy Excellence

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Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and Michigan Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Greg Main last week announced two new clean energy projects approved under the Centers of Energy Excellence program. 

The program brings companies, academic institutions, national labs and the state together to support cutting-edge research and development and pioneer new clean energy technology.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board Friday approved a COEE designation and $6 million in funding for Dow Corning Corp., a cooperative venture with Dow Corning joint venture subsidiary Hemlock Semiconductor and in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Lab to establish the Solar Valley Research Enterprise in the Midland area. 

The center will coordinate a regional cluster of private sector companies, academic institutions and government labs to speed innovation and commercialization in the photovoltaic value chain. 

The University of Michigan’s Energy Frontiers Research Center will contribute photovoltaic research, Saginaw Valley State University will furnish testing facilities and Delta College will provide worker training.  The University of Toledo and Georgia Institute of Technology will also contribute research. 

The project is contingent upon funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to be announced early next year. Dow Corning, Hemlock Semiconductor and the University of Toledo will each invest $6 million into the SVRE.

The SVRE will use an open, collaborative model to recruit partners from other parts of the photovoltaic value chain and will be anchored in two Midwest hubs: one in the Great Lakes Bay Region and one at the University of Toledo’s Photovoltaic Innovation Center. 

Dow Corning’s goal is to accelerate innovation, reduce manufacturing costs, improve reliability and speed grid parity for photovoltaic systems.  The testing and certification facilities at SVRE will help attract new manufacturers and expand Michigan’s photovoltaic value chain.

The MSF also approved a COEE designation and $3 million in funding for the Metamora-based Grid Logic, which will collaborate with ORNL to develop, test, certify and manufacture a fault current limiter that shores up the power supply in the event of a major disruption to the energy grid. 

Michigan Technological University, Florida State University, Columbia University and North Carolina State University will assist with research addressing fault current limiter-equipped networks compared to conventionally protected networks. The project will receive $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Advanced Manufacturing program.

The sale of fault current limiters represents a $1 billion to $3 billion annual market opportunity based on estimates from industry analysts and equipment suppliers. Grid Logic estimates the U.S. market will need thousands of units per year over the next 20 years. The company expects to create 200 direct jobs at its facility within five years.

In 2008, the MSF board awarded up to $43 million to six designated Centers of Energy Excellence.  At the end of 2009, Granholm signed legislation which established a second phase of the COEE program, allowing for up to $30 million to fund additional centers.  The second round was launched in January 2010. 

In total, there are 13 Centers of Energy Excellence including the two announced today: A123Systems Inc., Adaptive Materials and Sakti3 in Ann Arbor; Working Bugs LLC in East Lansing; American Process Inc. in Alpena; Swedish Biogas International in Flint; Mascoma Corporation in Kinross; Energetx Composites in Holland; Astraeus Wind Energy in Eaton Rapids, Dow Chemical in Midland and URV USA in Eaton Rapids.

For complete details on how companies can apply for funding, including eligibility requirements, proposal format and the application process, please visit: www.MichiganAdvantage.org/COEE.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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