Berkeley, CA – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and top executives from BP at the University of California, Berkeley to celebrate a new, innovative partnership through which BP will be investing $500 million over the next ten years to establish an Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), the first of its kind facility in the world, to expand the energy supply and reduce the impact of energy use on the environment. BP selected the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of California, Berkeley, two of world’s top public research institutions, along with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to host this state-of-the-art institute, which will advance radical research aimed at probing the emerging secrets of bioscience and applying them to the production of new and cleaner energy. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Dr. Richard Herman and First Lady Patricia Blagojevich celebrated the news with state officials and university faculty at a simultaneous announcement event at the new Illinois home of the EBI on the campus of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
“We are extremely pleased that Illinois and our flagship public-research university are a part of BP’s exciting new Energy Biosciences Institute, which will advance important new discoveries to protect our environment and expand our economy. If we make these kinds of investments now in cleaner renewable biofuels like ethanol and other biodiesel, within ten years we’ll be able to produce enough energy from our own natural resources to dramatically cut our dependence on foreign energy and help fight global warming. That means billions of our hard-earned dollars will stay here at home, in our economy creating more jobs, rather than leaving our country forever. As a national leader in corn and soybean production and world-class biofuels research and development, Illinois is uniquely positioned to advance the vision of this new Institute. We look forward to working together with BP and our partners in the State of California to bring even more efficient and effective renewable sources of energy to the marketplace,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Energy Biosciences Institute will perform ground-breaking research aimed at the production of new and cleaner energy, initially focusing on renewable biofuels for road transport. However, the EBI will also pursue research in three other key areas: the conversion of heavy hydrocarbons to clean fuels, improved recovery from existing oil and gas reservoirs, and carbon sequestration.
“I thank BP for engaging the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in this noble enterprise,” said Chancellor Richard Herman. “This exciting venture allows two of the country’s greatest public universities to work together to develop renewable energy – an initiative that will play a critical role in the success and security of our nation. Addressing the problems facing society is the business of our institution. The scientists leading this important work are continuing Illinois’ rich heritage of paradigm-changing discovery and innovation.”
Dedicated facilities on the campuses of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and UC-Berkeley will house EBI research laboratories and staff. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will carry out supporting research. Up to 50 BP staff located on the two campuses will work in partnership with university faculty and researchers. BP and its partners will share governance of the EBI and guidance of its research programs.
“The proposal from UC-Berkeley and its partners was selected in large part because these institutions have excellent track records of delivering ‘Big Science’ – large and complex developments predicated on both scientific breakthroughs and engineering applications that can be deployed in the real world,” said BP Group Chief Executive John Browne. “This program will further both basic and applied biological research relevant to energy. In short, it will create the discipline of Energy Biosciences. The Institute will be unique in both its scale and its partnership between BP, academia and others in the private sector.”
The primary role of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Energy Biosciences Institute will be to lead the development of the new crops, cropping systems and machinery needed to provide the biomass or feedstock for the generation of renewable liquid fuels. A major part of this effort will be the application of genomic technologies to the development of these new crops. This initiative will allow the University and the State of Illinois to contribute to a cleaner environment and a nation that doesn’t depend on foreign oil.
Illinois is a leading producer and among the most aggressive promoters of agriculture-based biofuels and other forms of renewable energy. Illinois is the nation’s #2 ethanol producer and #2 biodiesel producer. In 2007, Illinois’ ten ethanol plants will produce more than 1 billion gallons and three biodiesel plants will produce more than 120 million gallons. Gov. Blagojevich has supported a rapid expansion of the 85 percent ethanol fueling infrastructure, and by the end of 2007, Illinois will have more than 200 E-85 pumps. In 2003, the Governor signed legislation making Illinois the first and still only state to completely eliminate the state sales tax on E-85 and biodiesel blends of 11 percent and higher (“B11”), dramatically increasing E-85 sales and biodiesel sales.
Last summer, Gov. Blagojevich announced a comprehensive Energy Independence Plan to reduce our dependence on imported energy, which will allow Illinois to meet 50 percent of its fuel needs with alternative, homegrown sources by 2017. The Governor’s plan would invest $25 million to help build five new biodiesel plants, boosting the state’s production by 200 percent to 400 million gallons per year, or the equivalent to 25 percent of the state’s annual diesel fuel needs, by 2017. This additional biodiesel production will generate another $225 million in business investment in Illinois.
The Governor also proposes investing $100 million over the next 5 years to build up to 20 new ethanol plants across Illinois, which would generate an estimated $1.7 billion in business investment. Additionally, the Governor proposes investing $100 million over the next ten years to build four plants in downstate Illinois using new technology to create ethanol made from plant waste materials like corn husks and wood pulp – or “cellulosic ethanol.” This means boosting the state’s annual ethanol production by more than 200 percent and meeting 50 percent of gasoline needs by 2017. This plan would create almost 20,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs.
The Governor has also made important investments in biosciences research and development in partnership with the University of Illinois. This includes $75 million for the Institute for Genomic Biology, which is expected to open this spring and to house more than 300 researchers, who will lead the basic research necessary for next-generation, advanced science-based biofuels technology. The Governor has also committed $3.2 million to design the state-of-the-art Bioprocessing Research Laboratory that will bring together academia and industry and scientific and engineering expertise to advance processing technologies and scale-up promising new biofuels’ technologies to assure their rapid commercialization.
Business Facilities Magazine rated Illinois the top state in the nation for biotech growth in 2005, and last April, Illinois hosted BIO 2006. This was the first time one of the world’s most prestigious biosciences convention was held in the Midwest, which brought in almost 20,000 attendees from across the United States and 62 countries. The BIO conference will be coming back to Chicago in 2010.