Construction begins on Swedish Biogas International Plant

— Swedish Biogas International broke ground Aug. 9 on its biogas facility, located at the City of Flint Wastewater Treatment Plant. Flint Township Supervisor Karyn Miller, Clerk Kim Courts, Trustee Franklin Kasle and other representatives from the township were on hand for a press conference announcing the start of construction, along with Swedish Biogas International CEO Tom Guise, City of Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and representatives from Sen. Carl Levin’s and Rep. Dale Kildee’s offices.

“It’s very positive and I’m excited to know there are plans before construction,” said Miller during the Aug. 9 Flint Township Board of Trustees meeting. “There are lots of good things ahead.”

By early next year, human waste will be treated at the plant and then be used to create biogas, which will generate “green” electricity. Initial construction will be on a flare assembly, followed by work on storage tank for the biogas and pump station. The first phase of the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010, cost $4-5 million. At the Aug. 9 press conference, Guise announced that Swedish Biogas International will invest another $2-3 million in the plant to build a codigestor that will utilize human and food waste to create biogas. The additional investment will coincide with the initial construction and be operational next year. The biogas will eventually be used to create biomethane, which can be used as fuel for vehicles.

Tracey Tucker, economic enhancement director for Flint Township, said Guise will be coming before the Planning Commission to adjust the site plan for the facility due to the additional investment and plans for the facility.

The plant is a partnership betwen Linkoping, Sweden-based Swedish Biogas, Flint Township, the City of Flint, the state of Michigan and Kettering University. The plan for a biogas facility started more than two years ago when Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf visited Flint in September 2008 for the plant’s ceremonial groundbreaking.

“By connecting innovative companies like Swedish Biogas International with our world-class research facilities and universities, we can create jobs and make Michigan the North American epicenter of the alternative energy industry,” Granholm said during the 2008 ceremony. “This is all part of our aggressive strategy to diversify our economy while becoming the state that helps end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.”

The Swedish Biogas International plant is one of the state’s first Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE). The mission of the COEE program is to bring companies, academic institutions, and local and state government together to support cutting-edge research and development and pioneer new alternative-energy technology, according to the website.

Photo by Natalie Blythe

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