Grand Forks, North Dakota [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Construction will be under way next week on the $3 million, 15,000-square-foot facility that will allow the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) to capitalize on the tremendous growth in its hydrogen-related projects at the University of North Dakota (UND) National Center for Hydrogen Technology facility.The EERC will break ground on Monday, April 17, 2006, for the facility, which will significantly enhance strategic research, development, testing and commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and result in 50 to 100 new, high-paying private sector equivalent jobs at the EERC. An additional 50 to 100 new private sector jobs in the greater Grand Forks region will also evolve as these projects progress. “This facility represents a significant partnership between the federal government, the state of North Dakota, the city of Grand Forks, private industry, and the EERC and provides a cornerstone to address the nation’s enormous challenge of developing new technologies that will guarantee our energy security for the long term,” said Gerald Groenewold, EERC Director. A 30-foot-high demonstration/testing area will be located inside the building, along with a staging area for vehicle demonstration, a fuel cell testing area, a high-temperature materials lab, and other individual labs for a variety of hydrogen production technologies. The building is being designed by Schoen & Associates. “This building will provide a specialized state-of-the-art facility to provide solutions for the world’s growing energy needs, while at the same time opportunities for regional economic growth,” said Associate Director for Research Tom Erickson. Funding for the facility is being provided by the North Dakota Centers of Excellence Commission, which awarded the EERC $2.5 million, and the city of Grand Forks, which provided $500,000 in matching funds. The EERC, designated the National Center for Hydrogen Technology by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in November of 2004 in recognition of more than 50 years of hydrogen research involving fossil and renewable energy, has more than $20 million in current hydrogen contracts in place. An additional $20 million of near-term opportunities is in discussion with a variety of sponsors, for a total of $40 million.