Network of Great Lakes energy research centers could usher in ‘green economy’

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The Great Lakes region is key to developing an innovation-driven green economy, according to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

The report outlines the benefits of creating a region-wide network of energy research centers.

“…a series of roughly six of these high-powered, market-focused energy centers would create a critical mass of innovation through their number, size, variety, linkages and orientation to pre-existing research institutions and industry clusters,” according to the report.

Accounting for nearly a third of all academic and industry research development in the country, the Midwest “lies at ground zero of the nation’s need ‘green’ the U.S. industry,” according to the report.

Each center would call on the region’s top research universities, national and private research laboratories and engineering expertise to examine energy problems ranging from the development of biofuels to the transportation of power.

Regional partnerships would streamline research processes, lead to the development of highly innovative technologies and stimulate local economies.

For example, a “southeastern Michigan collaboration involving the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin and Ford, General Motors and Dow Chemical could address the development of sustainable transportation technologies.”

The report points out insufficient energy research funding in the past and calls for the network to have backing comparable to that of Department of Energy laboratories.

Below, Mark Muro, policy director in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, explains why the Great Lakes region has the potential to become a hub of energy research.


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