Sacramento, California - This week I am honored to be among a United States delegation invited to visit Denmark by the Danish Trade Council and the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are there to share information and learn from Denmark’s experiences as it evaluates the prospect of becoming a biogas-based economy.

The delegation was welcomed in Copenhagen on Sunday and attended a dinner that included California wines.

Denmark requires large amounts of natural gas for heating due to its cold climate. The country’s approach combines various sources of methane biogas. On Monday the delegation met with officials from the State of Green and the Danish Energy Agency. State of Green is a public-private partnership organization that facilitates relationships with international stakeholders interested in green economy solutions. We learned about the history of Denmark’s focus on biogas and the nation’s ambitious goal of becoming fossil fuel-independent by 2050.

Agriculture is currently the largest contributor of methane biogas and that role is expected to grow. Agriculture also accounts for almost 66 percent of all land-use in Denmark. The public and private sectors have worked together to establish long-term financial agreements for renewable biogas and dairy waste products to help facilitate renewable energy and address environmental issues such as excessive on-farm nutrient application and runoff into water bodies.

We had the opportunity to meet with engineers from two multi-national companies that specialize in cleaning-up and conditioning methane biogas before it can be injected into pipelines. We also visited the Danish Technical University, where we heard from researchers working on the Future Gas Project, which aims to predict the sustainability and feasibility of a biogas-based economy for Denmark over the long-term. And we met with engineering students working on developing innovative technologies to cleanup biogas and establish real-time measurements in the biogas production process.

We are looking forward to visiting several biogas plants in Denmark to learn first-hand how animal agriculture systems are contributing to the biogas-based economy.

Dr. Geetika Joshi is a Supervising Senior Environmental Scientist who manages CDFA’s Dairy Digester Research and Development Program and its Alternative Manure Management Program – both housed in the Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation.