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Austrians interested in U.S. experience with renewable energy and biofuels

Besuch Landesrat Stephan Pernkopf Okt. 2009 © ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA

© ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA

December 1, 2009

Lower Austrian Agricultural Secretary Pernkopf meets with Minnesota Commissioner Hugoson

“American entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and optimism.” This is what Lower Austrian agricultural experts were most impressed with when visiting the U.S. this fall. The U.S. really seems to be a country where unrestricted opportunities exist when looking for ways to make the best use of agricultural production. An expert delegation headed by the Secretary of the Austrian State of Lower Austria for Agriculture, Environment and Energy, Mr. Stephan Pernkopf visited Minnesota and California in Oct. 2009 to learn more about the U.S. experience with renewable energies and biofuels.

In Minnesota the delegation was warmly welcomed and accompanied by Commissioner Gene Hugoson from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Minnesota is the state with the highest per capita use of ethanol. Similar to Austria, Minnesota has a high percentage of farmers that don’t work full-time in agriculture. The delegation’s Minnesota program included plant visits (Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co., Fibromen and Koda Energy) and meetings with experts from the Dept. of Agriculture and the Minnesota Farm Bureau. According to Pernkopf, the dimensions of some U.S. projects are too big for Austrian standards, but the concept of waste resulting from slaughterhouses and animal breeding being used for energy production is also important for Lower Austria. Another difference: by cultivating the partially rocky and hilly ground, Austrian farmers also deliver services to the public like maintaining water quality and the landscape.

Lower Austria already garners 25% of its energy from renewable sources and wants to increase this share to 50% by 2020. Further technological progress will be very important in order to reach this goal. Renewable energy sources will enjoy priority on all state and local levels in Lower Austria. Lower Austria also has lots of potential for increasing its present share of wind energy generation from 10% to some 25%.

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