Minn., Sweden officials sign bioenergy agreement

By Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development | June 27, 2013

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and a Swedish official signed a document in mid-June that pledges to continue working together on research, technology and public policy related to the field of bioenergy.

Dayton and Daniel Johansson, an official with the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, signed a memorandum of understanding to continue the relationship during an event in Stockholm.

The governor was in Stockholm with a delegation of 35 Minnesotans as part of a 10-day trade mission to Sweden, Germany and Norway to promote Minnesota exports to those countries and attract foreign direct investment to the state.

Sweden, which generates 32 percent of its energy from biofuels, has been working with Minnesota for several years to increase bioenergy in the state. One outcome was the International Renewable Energy Technology Institute, which was formed at Minnesota State University-Mankato through a partnership with the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and Swedish partners.

Studies on converting biomass to energy, clean energy conferences and roundtables, tours and project collaborations are among other outcomes of the relationship. A group of Minnesotans visited bioenergy facilities in Sweden last year to learn how similar projects might be implemented here using materials such as wood pellets, chips, bark and sawdust.

Sweden has also gained insights and experience from Minnesota, learning about the state’s well-developed ethanol and biodiesel industries. Additionally, the state, which has 16 million acres of timberland, leads the United States in sustainable wood-harvest guidelines and is a national leader in developing wind and solar energy.

Bioenergy projects in northern Minnesota are among future opportunities for collaboration between Minnesota and Sweden, including a proposed district energy system fueled by biomass harvested from forests in Grand Marais, Ely and other communities.

Technology exchanges and business partnerships that could support new jobs are among other opportunities that Minnesota and Sweden are exploring.