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New greenhouse in Minnesota uses bio-diesel from algae, and nutrient waste from aquaculture

July 16, 2012  By Treena Hein

A new greenhouse in Minnesota in the Silver Bay Eco-Industrial Business Park uses bio-diesel from algae, and nutrient waste from aquaculture.

A greenhouse integrating food production, algae production for bio-diesel, and aquaculture has just opened in Minnesota, as part of the Silver Bay Eco-Industrial Business Park. The University of Minnesota is a project partner.


“The bio-diesel generated from algae [is a] renewable energy source for not only the greenhouse, but the entire park,” states the Silver Bay municipal website. The greenhouses will generate produce and fish year around for local consumption by citizens, schools, restaurants, and other sources.


“The purpose of the Eco-Industrial Business Park is to network businesses to work with each other and the Silver Bay Community in order to create and diversify living wage employment by improving resource productivity, eliminating pollution and expanding markets through renewable, sustainable energy development.”

CHP system also part of Park
A keystone of the Park is the development of the Combined Heat and Power plant which will use biomass as its raw material. “The Pellet Facility would be one of the largest main users of both the heat and the power that would be generated from the CHP plant. The Pellet Facility would create pellets for the retail market. Currently we are identifying additional funding resources to help with permitting and design.

Because of the innovation of the Silver Bay Eco-Industrial Business Park, unique opportunities to expand our local educational opportunities exist. We are working with local secondary, post-secondary, and specialized educational organizations to identify specific courses that will help with workforce development training and research and development for the future.

Although our focus is on the top three clusters, the other identified clusters are either existing or are considered ancillary businesses that would be created once the larger clusters become more developed.”

Goals of the Eco-Industrial Park (from the park brochure):

1.Create an Eco-Industrial Business Park that is self sustainable using heat and power generated from renewable energy production systems that are locally owned.

2. Create economic development clusters that network businesses and industries so that one business’ waste is another industry’s feedstock.

3. Create opportunities that utilize existing natural resources within a 50 mile radius of Silver Bay while maintaining the integrity of our Northshore environment.

4. Create living wage jobs.

5. Diversify the employment base while increasing the tax base.

6. Support sustainable forest management and create opportunities to help retain the local logging industry.

7. Create a long-term revenue resource for future economic growth and community development.


Timeline for project

– September 2008 – City EDA and Bruce Carman identified a potential niche in renewable
energy possibilities.

– October 2008 – An inter-disciplinary project team was developed working with local energy

– October 2008 – Grant Submitted to MN Pollution Control Agency and Iron Range Resources
to help determine the feasibility of various renewable energy sources: Biomass/ Binary, Wind/Solar, and Algae/Biodiesel.

– June 2009 – Grant approved and contracts were written with Dr. Mike Mageau, UMD, for
the Wind/Algae studies; Chuck Hartley, LHB, for the Biomass/Binary study; and Bruce Carman for project coordination.

– August 2009 – Biomass/Binary study completed with a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant and Pellet Facility identified.

– September 2009 – Began doing research and development on sustainability of the biomass
raw materials on a local, state, and federal level with specific research within a 50 mile radius of Silver Bay. Submitted multiple grants to assist in funding of designing and permitting of a CHP/Pellet Facility. Identified potential investors in the project.

– January 2010 – Identified unique concept of algae production within greenhouses with
wind funneling.

– March 2010 – Identified Produce and Fish Production to be incorporated into greenhouses.

– March 2010 – Attended Day at the Capital meeting with Legislators to help with funding
for design/engineering of the CHP/Pellet Facility and Bio-Energy Facility (Greenhouse).

– March 2010 – Awarded funding through Coastal Program to develop Land-Use Planning in the park.

– April 2010 – Awarded funding through the Legislators for Bio-Energy Facility.

– July 2012 – Park opens

To watch a news clip, visit here.

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