Sweden forges energy links with Michigan

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm hopes her upcoming trade trip to Sweden will help the state tap into Sweden's efforts to meet its energy needs entirely with renewable fuels by 2020.

“Sweden is a world leader in alternative energy,” Granholm said Tuesday during a news conference during which she discussed the weeklong trip to Sweden and Germany that begins Saturday.

Going along for the trip to Sweden are researchers from Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University. Several of Michigan State’s and Michigan Tech’s bioenergy experts traveled to Sweden Tuesday, as did state forester Donna LaCourt from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Michigan State faculty members, who will keep an online travel log during their trip, are looking for ways they can work closely with Swedish scientists and entrepreneurs to create new products and processes involving biotechnology.

One of the Michigan State officials in Sweden is Steve Pueppke, director of the university’s Office of Biobased Technologies, who’s also involved with the Great Lakes BioEnergy Research Center, one of three federally funded centers set up to develop new ways of turning switchgrass, poplar trees and other plants into fuel.

Besides focusing on bioenergy, Granholm plans to meet with Swedish companies involved in the automotive sector, tooling, biotechnology and neurological drug development while she’s there.

Nearly 50 Swedish companies currently employ more than 6,000 workers in Michigan, according to the governor’s office.