Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Velkommen til Kobenhavn!

Velkommen til Kovenhavn! (Welcome to Copenhagen!)

Yesterday/today (it's all running together now) I travelled from Jamestown, North Dakota to Minneapolis, Minnesota (airport tram ride with MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty- cool!) to Amsterdam (capital of the Netherlands) to Copenhagan, Denmark. No real issues until we arrived and learned that there are not one, but SEVEN "Scandic Hotels" in Copenhagan. The first one we went to was NOT the one we needed to be at, so we investigated and then traveled 5 minutes to the correct hotel :)

Dropping off my bags in my tidy little room with the traditional clean lines of Danish design was SUCH a relief!

The view from my hotel room window:
My travelling companions at this point are Jim Boyd, representing the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation (JSDC), Randy Neva, Jamestown-area farmer/rancher, and Jamestown Mayor, Katie Andersen.
Tomorrow we'll be joined by a host of others including local legislators, the ND Agriculture Commissioner, ND Attorney General, and representatives from Great River Energy, The Bank of North Dakota, Great Plains Institute, ND Dept. of Commerce, ND Corn Growers Association, ND Corn Utilization Council, and the ND Grain Growers Association. We'll total 22 when everyone arrives.
I was honored to be invited to be part of this delegation by the JSDC and am charged with the responsibility of representing the interests of our farm and other Jamestown area farmers. See for more information on the work of the JSDC.
So, WHY, you ask is our group in Denmark?
Great River Energy and Inbicon, the cellulosic biomass refinery technology subsidiary of the Danish utility company, DONG Energy, are working together to develop and build a cellulosic biomass refinery in North Dakota. The biomass refinery, Dakota Spirit Ag Energy (DSA) will be located in Spiritwood, North Dakota.
Eventually, the goal is to have DSA converting biomass (wheat straw and parts of corn plants other than corn grain called "corn stover") into a variety of energy products including ethanol, molasses, and lignin pellets. DSA would utilize approximately 480,000 tons/year of biomass.
Here in Denmark, Inbicon has a demonstration biomass facility in Kalundborn (about an hour and a half bus ride from Copenhagen).
We're going to take a gander at that plant tomorrow.
So will this work in North Dakota? The jury is still out. We've got a lot to analyze. What are the logistics? How will we grow and harvest the biomass crops and deliver them to the plant? What are the effects on soil health? Most importantly, will this be profitable for local farmers and other parties involved?
My list of questions to answer this week is long, but I'm excited to get learning tomorrow. Stay tuned!
One last note. I sat down with my fellow Jamestownians tonight and enjoyed a delicious supper of chicken cordon bleu. I was entertained by the fact that the menu at our hotel restaurant had a "CLIMATE" section. In this section, plant-based, organic, locally produced foods were proclaimed as superior to other foods, and the production of cod (fish) fillet was even compared to a liter of milk, based on it's carbon emission.
Oh boy, am I ever back in Europe. Don't get me wrong, I really love European farmers, but they are subjected to the whims of a public (and resulting legislators/legislation) that have bought into the "climate change" gimic hook, line, and sinker. (groan).
I happily and gratefully enjoyed my dinner that included pork and chicken and cheese (dairy), along with an array of fresh vegetables, and gave thanks for ALL farmers (not just the organic folks), including my family, who are working hard everyday to raise food using sustainable, environmentally-friendly methods.
Food for thought: If it weren't for the initiative of farmers and the agriculture industry to constantly pursue innovations in efficient and effective methods of feeding and fueling our world, I would be at home in North Dakota, content with the status quo, instead of doing research in Denmark.
THANKS for taking the time to visit my little place in cyberspace,
Sarah :)

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