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UMass and Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Bowles Sign MOU for Clean Energy Collaboration

Trustee Science, Technology & Research Committee Meets to Discuss the University's Considerable Clean Energy and Life Sciences Strengths

Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian A. Bowles and University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson shook hands today after signing a MOU that calls for cooperative clean energy research and education activities.

BOSTON - At a meeting attended by the Patrick Administration's top energy and environmental affairs official, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees Committee on Science, Technology & Research today discussed the University's considerable research and economic development initiatives, with a specific focus on clean energy and the life sciences.

At the meeting, University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) Ian A. Bowles declaring a "shared goal of meeting the clean energy needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth through research, education, public service and establishing an effective inter-organizational approach" to developing clean energy programs. The MOU calls for creation of an executive coordinating committee that would plan cooperative research, education, and public service activities.

"I want to thank Secretary Bowles for entering into this partnership, which enables the University of Massachusetts to work with the state to develop new technologies and new programs which will improve the lives of Massachusetts residents and bolster the growing clean energy industry in Massachusetts. Since the 1970s, the University has been building a strong portfolio of energy research expertise across many sectors and our faculty are national and international leaders in their fields. Increased collaborations among University of Massachusetts campuses and state agencies will accelerate crucial advances in clean energy technology," said UMass President Jack M. Wilson.

Wilson also noted that "competition to win research dollars, develop these technologies and programs and bring technologies to market is intensifying" but that the University of Massachusetts has considerable energy expertise and a strong technology commercialization track record, including spinning-off the Massachusetts-based clean energy companies Konarka and SunEthanol.

"Governor Patrick has declared that Massachusetts will be a global leader in clean energy technology, and we are well on the way to achieving that status," said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles. "The University of Massachusetts has a special role in making that vision a reality. The partnership we are establishing today will accelerate our progress toward a clean energy future for the Commonwealth, and the world."

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan endorsed the signing of the agreement and echoed President Wilson's praise for Governor Patrick's and Secretary Bowles' ambitious clean energy agenda, "On behalf of my Chancellor colleagues, I would like to express our strong support for this MOU and say how pleased we are to see this agreement signed by President Wilson as one indicator of our shared commitment to renewable energy initiatives.  I would like to thank Governor Patrick and Secretary Bowles for placing such high priority on a partnership with the University in this area of research and policy.  We are honored to be called upon to contribute to solutions that will be so important to the future of the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world."

The new agreement will build upon prior successful collaborations such as the University's role as a partner in helping the Commonwealth secure a National Renewable Energy Laboratory Wind Technology Testing Center, which was announced by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman in June 2007.

At the meeting, Secretary Bowles; Greg Watson, EEOA's senior advisor for clean energy technology; President Wilson; and University Trustees heard a report from the UMass Clean Energy Working Group, comprised of representatives from a University's four undergraduate campuses and chaired by UMass Amherst Vice Provost for Research Paul Kostecki. Their February 2008 report, "Clean Energy for the Commonwealth Powered by The University of Massachusetts," outlines energy- and environmentally-focused research and partnerships at the University in context of advancing clean energy technologies across the Commonwealth and across the nation.

The report notes that at least 120 University of Massachusetts faculty members are engaged in clean energy-related research and teaching and that clean energy-related sponsored research funding at UMass reached $18.5 million in 2006.

The report highlights ten areas of clean energy-related research underway at UMass:

  • Offshore wind energy
  • Advanced polymers and nanomaterials for photovoltaics, fuel cells and batteries
  • Integrated technologies for development and deployment of residential photovoltaic systems
  • Cellulosic biofuels and the integrated biorefinery
  • Microbial fuel cells
  • Geothermal energy
  • Marine renewable energy
  • Smart growth, sustainable design and green construction
  • Energy management systems and efficiency technologies
  • Economic and policy analysis of clean energy and climate change

It also identifies specific technology targets for clean energy research such as "green" gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, affordable hydrogen powered fuel cells, autonomously powered deep-ocean monitoring systems.

The report cites research published by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MT) showing that the clean energy industry employs more than 14,400 Massachusetts residents of all skill levels, and that the industry is expected to employ 75,000 people in Massachusetts within the next 10 years, according to the report.

Many people think developing clean energy - technologies and services that encourage energy efficiencies and renewables while reducing harmful greenhouse gas pollution - has emerged as a singular challenge to economic and environmental security in the United States.

Also at the meeting, UMass Medical School Interim Chancellor and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Michael Collins gave a report on the University's life sciences initiatives and pending state legislation and UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan discussed the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center.

Robert P. Connolly (UMass) 617-287-7073
Libby DeVecchi (UMass) 617-287-7023

Robert Keough (EEA) 617-626-1109
Lisa Capone (EEA) 617-626-1119


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