CEEM Participates in fact finding trip to Denmark

July 12, 2023
Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) was honored to take part in a recent fact finding trip to Denmark to learn more about the Danish biogas and dairy sectors. CEEM’s Executive Director, Gregg Mast, was one of sixteen delegation members consisting of industry, government and academic leaders from the U.S. and Canada that participated in the trip.

Denmark’s Global Leadership

Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) was honored to take part in a recent fact finding trip to Denmark to learn more about the Danish biogas and dairy sectors. CEEM’s Executive Director, Gregg Mast, was one of sixteen delegation members consisting of industry, government and academic leaders from the U.S. and Canada that participated in the trip organized by The Trade Council and the Waste, Recycling, and Biogas Advisory (WBA) which are parts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Alongside CEEM-member, Nature Energy – whose global corporate headquarters is located in the city of Odense on the island of Funen – participants had the opportunity to explore and discuss policy frameworks, regulatory approaches, and innovative technologies that have positioned Denmark as a global leader in sustainable energy and smart agricultural practices. Throughout the week, delegation members were able to see and discuss first-hand how collaboration between the public and private sectors are playing out in real-time to deliver on Denmark’s ambition to achieve 100% biogas by 2030 and the country’s goal to reach net zero by 2045.

Delegation photo June 2023

Biogas, a critical part of a circular economy

Nature Energy, with a U.S. business office located in Saint Paul, is the largest producer of biogas in Europe. The company owns and operates 13 biogas plants in Denmark and is actively developing 40+ international biogas projects including in Minnesota. Biogas is a renewable fuel produced from organic matter, such as animal and food waste, through a process called anaerobic digestion (where microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen). Biogas plays an important role in a circular economy and can be used in a variety of applications, including as a transportation fuel or to replace natural gas in heating and electricity production to name just a few. The residual solids and liquids created from the biogas production process, digestate, is also used as a fertilizer that is spread on fields with less odor.

Delegation members learned about the long-term, stable policy and market mechanisms that have played a crucial role in developing the country’s biogas and agricultural products markets. This included presentations and discussions with the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Biogas Denmark, and Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark. A site visit to Gemidan Ecogi provided participants the opportunity to further understand the role biogas plays as the country’s preferred management strategy for its organic waste streams while seeing first-hand the company’s pre-treatment process for organic waste. A robust discussion with Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO) for its gas and electricity systems, also shed light on the role of biogas in the energy transition and how the TSO balances clean energy with the security of energy supply and affordability.

The delegation dove deep into several technical and market aspects of biogas development with leading Danish companies throughout the biogas value chain. This included a discussion on project design and engineering with Renew Energy and approaches for biogas purification, upgrading, and power to X with companies Biogasclean and Ammongas. A special highlight for CEEM included a site visit to Nature Energy’s headquarters and tour of their on-site laboratory. Nature Energy CEO, Ole Hvelplund along with Lead Business Developer, Tore Junkuhn Dehli and SVP, Public Private Partnerships USA, Gaurav Parikh discussed the great potential biogas holds globally and the company’s philosophy and business approach for project and market development with delegation members. Participants also had the opportunity to visit Nature Energy’s biogas facility located in Videbæk.

Nature Energy Plant

The biogas and dairy value chain

Arla Dairy Farm

Delegation members traveled further across the country to meet with local leaders and practitioners representing the biogas and dairy value chain. This included a site visit and tour in Højslev at an Arla Dairy Farm that participates as a supplier of dairy manure to a local biogas production facility and a presentation and site visit to Green Lab located in Skive which is a cutting-edge green and circular energy park. Green Lab’s approach is one of particular interest to CEEM given the immense opportunity that exists in Minnesota for redevelopment of existing industrial parks with innovative and symbiotic clean energy technologies as well as harnessing local renewable resources and delivering job creation and economic development. Participants were also treated to a site visit at a Grauballegaard Biogas facility and a presentation by innovative company, Grainit.

Industry research and innovation

Research and innovation played a prominent role in the delegation’s discussions and site visits throughout the week in Denmark. The latest in research and collaboration culminated with visits and presentations to Agro Food Park located in Aarhus which provides a physical space for food and agriculture companies to both work independently and collaborate. SEGES Innovation shared information on biogas production and nutrient management while Food and Bio Cluster Denmark discussed their work to foster relationships and connections between food and ag companies. Informative lightning round presentations were also delivered by companies Feedlync, Viking Genetics, Vilofoss, and Cow Welfare. Participants wrapped up our intense week of learning and discussion with a visit to the dairy and biogas research facilities at Aarhus University’s campus located in Tjele.

Leveraging the connections

CEEM is immensely grateful to The Trade Council and Nature Energy for the inspiring and informative week in Denmark. We would like to extend a very special thank you to Anna Trillingsgaard, Benedikte Borg Pedersen, and Anna Walsh-Vilander for the leadership, organization, and support throughout the trip. Unique insights regarding opportunities, solutions, as well as challenges – along with a host of valuable connections for CEEM were made that will play a critical role in our work across our member companies to create valuable business connections as well as our collective work to achieve Minnesota’s 100% Clean Energy by 2040 legislation and Minnesota’s Climate Action Framework goal of economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. Leveraging and furthering bilateral cooperation with our Danish colleagues presents tremendous business and policy opportunities and CEEM looks forward to the work that lies ahead!

All photo credits: “The Trade Council”

Photos top to bottom:

  • Delegation meeting at Danish Agriculture and Food Council
  • Delegation site visit at Nature Energy’s biogas facility in Videbæk
  • Delegation site visit at Arla Dairy Farm in Højslev

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