BISMARCK – A delegation of North Dakota government officials and energy industry and farm group representatives will travel to Denmark in March to learn more about that country's efforts to develop a cellulosic ethanol industry.

The main purpose of this trip is to visit the Kalundborg cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility to determine how we can build a commercial-size facility in North Dakota,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, one of the organizers of the trip. “We especially want to know how the facility impacts local agriculture, both economically and in terms of soil health.”

Great River Energy and Inbicon, a subsidiary of the Danish utility company DONG Energy, are working to develop and build a cellulosic biomass refinery, Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, to be located next to the Spiritwood Station power plant at Spiritwood, east of Jamestown. Inbicon operates the Kalundborg facility.

“We think the opportunity to experience Danish technology and farming practices first hand is important homework in considering biomass technology for North Dakota,” said Greg Ridderbusch, vice president of business development for Great River Energy. “Great River Energy is pleased to participate and appreciates the collaborative approach between agriculture and energy.”

Goehring, who owns a no-till farm near Menoken, said he is especially interested in seeing how the removal of crop residue – stalks and stems – affects the quality of the soil.

“Producers in the Kalundborg area have been removing crop residue from their fields for the last 25 years to be burned in an electric power plant near the ethanol plant,” Goehring said. “This is an opportunity to learn what, if any, impact this cultivation practice has on soil health.”

Other stops on the trip will include a visit to the Avedøre Power Plant to see full-scale biomass handling and other biomass facilities. The groups will also hear presentations by DONG Energy, Great River Energy and the Danish Technological Institute.

In addition to Goehring, the 22-member delegation will include Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, state Sens. Terry Wanzek, Tim Flakoll and Jim Dotzenrod; state Reps. Dennis Johnson, Craig Headland and Phillip Mueller; Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen, representatives from Great River Energy, the Great Plains Institute, North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Grain Growers and others.

The group leaves March 9 and returns March 13.