Support for Bioproduct Research, Pilot, and Demonstration Projects
Production of biobased chemicals is a major opportunity for Minnesota’s economy. Biobased chemicals can replace petroleum as the building block for a variety of consumer products and materials. Opportunity exists for standalone biobased chemical manufacturing facilities or advanced biofuel plants that utilize production co-products as a feedstock source for biobased chemicals. Similar to how a barrel of oil supplies refined gasoline, diesel or jet fuel in addition to base chemicals, the same concept applies to biofuel production.
A growing cluster of biobased chemical companies currently exists in Minnesota. A number of natural advantages helped build this cluster within the state, including the existing agribusiness industry and easy access to feedstocks and raw materials. Minnesota’s well-educated high-tech metro population, state leadership for other renewable energy industries and world-class university research have also ensured that many of these companies remain headquartered in Minnesota. However, in order to attract manufacturing facilities in addition to company headquarters, Minnesota will need to make public investments available to compete with other states and countries.
Despite the potential for large economic benefits stemming from the biobased chemical industry’s presence within Minnesota’s borders, state support for bioproducts has been lacking, especially compared to Minnesota’s strong history of support for biofuel development. To help guarantee long-term growth for the state’s economy, the legislature can take steps to create an environment for these companies to thrive and build manufacturing facilities within Minnesota.
The NextGen Energy Board
During the 2013 legislative session, the Coalition supported increased research and development funding for this industry, enabling the NextGen Energy Board to make up to $2.5 million in grants of up to $500,000 each to support projects in this area.
The board, created as part of Minnesota’s landmark Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, currently makes recommendations on policy and funding for bioenergy research and development to the state legislature.
The Coalition supports continuing to fund the NextGen Energy Board to continue offering grants to support development of innovative renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels projects.