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      Can Michigan produce renewable energy from biomass?

      What's the potential for Michigan to produce renewable energy from biomass? MSU experts in the field presented the latest research at the Forest Biomass Innovation Center in Escanaba on Tuesday.

      The event was open to the public, who toured the site as well.

      In the past five years, there's been a growing interest in how trees can help with the state and country's renewable energy needs.

      Researchers and scientists have been working to develop fast-growing trees that can be used to make energy products. These bio-energy crops are Poplars and Willows.

      â??Right now there's not a lot of market demand out there, but it's building,â?? explains Bill Cook, a Forester with MSU Extension. â??So the research tries to stay ahead of the curb. When the demand begins is not the time to start 10 years of research.''

      The facility is dedicated to forest research and experiments. The experiments include measuring the height, diameter, and branching patterns. Researchers are very interested in the number of tons per acre per year that are grown here.

      Officials are trying to see whether farmers and landowners would consider these crops an alternative crop to ones they're growing.

      What would the long-term vision be?

      â??We would have bio-processing facilities which would be constructed,â?? says Steve Pueppke, Director of AgBio Research. â??And we would be growing this biomass and then transporting it into those places and converting it into motor fuels.â??

      Researchers are currently at an experimental stage with the growth of the trees.

      These experiments will continue over a number of years to get good data.