Although U-M researchers dont yet know the particulars of their involvement with Governor John Englers plan to position the state as a leader in the development of alternative energy sources, they do know that one of his primary objectives, to establish a U-M-affiliated center for research and technical assistance, will fit nicely with the work the University already is doing in the area of alternative fuels.
Engler announced his plan for a $3050 million NextEnergy initiative just over two weeks ago. The plan calls for creation of a center that will serve as a clearing house and information resource on alternative energy. The center also will provide technical assistance to industry and be a major hub for industry-university research collaborations.
The governors proposal includes development of a 700-acre parcel in York Township, near Ypsilanti, as a NextEnergy Zone where fuel cell and other alternative energy companies can locate tax-free.
In making his announcement, the governor said development of alternative fuels is essential for the nation to reduce dependence on foreign oil, to improve the environment and to strengthen the economy. He also said it is critical that Michigan be a leader in order to save the jobs of some 200,000 autoworkers and to retain the states position as the worlds leader in automotive technology.
We are supportive and enthusiastic about the governors plan, says Interim President B. Joseph White. Its good for economic development, good for the environment, and a critically important area of research and education for the future.
Gary Was, associate dean for research in the College of Engineering, says the governors NextEnergy plan, coupled with President George W. Bushs endorsement of hydrogen as a fuel, are welcome developments for the University. It raises the visibility for the whole area, which creates opportunities for us to grow our research, Was says.
With 17 sponsored research programs on advanced and alternative energy systems in Ann Arbor, plus several projects at U-M-Dearborn, the University already is established as a leader in development of alternative energy, says Fawwaz Ulaby, vice president for research.
We are well-positioned for this role because of our current research in this area, says Ulaby. Additionally, our relationships with the automotive industry and our geographic location make U-M a logical participant in this important initiative.
opposed to the 15 percent or less from gasoline
Source: Breakthrough Technologies Institute/Fuel Cells 2000