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GRE unveils plans for biorefinery

Great River Energy unveiled plans Wednesday in Jamestown for a first-of-its-kind $300 million biorefin-ery near its power plant, Spiritwood Station, 10 miles east of the city.

The biorefinery is expected to go online with the production of cellulosic ethanol, primarily using wheat straw, by 2015. GRE is the developer and a Danish company, Inbicon, will provide the cellulosic ethanol technology. GRE is still looking for an operator for the biorefinery, which will be called Dakota Spirit AgEnergy LLC.

Spiritwood Station, GRE's 99 megawatt coal-fired power plant, is still under construction. It is expected to be generating electricity by fall. Speaking on "Biomass: where ag meets energy" at an Ag Week luncheon, Sandra Broekema, GRE's manager of business development, said it's only a matter of time before coal-fired power plants will have to reduce their carbon footprint. Using biomass will help reduce that footprint.

"Coal-fired plants produce twice the carbon emissions than natural gas," she said. "Biomass is carbon neutral and can help mitigate the cost of carbon."

GRE is planning to eventually convert to 10 percent biomass in its coal-fired steam generation of electric-ity. But for now it's increasing the efficiency of Spiritwood Station by providing its waste steam to Cargill Malt and the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy biorefinery.

Read more in Thursday's Sun