Northern Minn. college partners with Swedish research institution

By Luke Geiver | March 08, 2012

Itasca Community College, located in Northern Minnesota, has partnered with the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Skogforsk, to further develop the forest-based bioenergy supply chain in Minnesota.

“We see a great opportunity for cooperation around education, technology and innovation to increase efficiency and quality in the biomass supply chain,” said Tomas Johannesson, a researcher at Skogforsk. “The conditions in Minnesota are similar to those in Sweden.” 

As part of the partnership, ICC will work to develop and integrate more biomass-to-energy opportunities in the region by creating workforce development and training programs. ICC also plans to show the effectiveness of woody biomass sourced from the region by enhancing an existing wood-fired boiler that provides heat for the ICC campus’ district heating loop.

“At a time when we’ve seen major plant shutdowns tied to a contracting housing industry, it is imperative that we work to attract new industries that will maintain the demand for timber that allows us to properly manage our forests,” said Jeff Borling, interim president and CEO of Itasca Economic Development Corp.  “With the outstanding programs in both forestry and engineering, ICC is well positioned to leverage its partnership with Skogforsk in a way that can help keep Minnesota on the cutting edge of the emerging wood-based energy industry.” 

ICC will also be joined in the project by The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and the Swedish Bioenergy Association. Bart Johnson, an instructor at ICC and the lead for its wood boiler project, said the partnership is a tremendous opportunity for ICC because of its ability to help the wood products industry in Northern Minnesota.