In the Dakota language, “Koda” means friend. To the Earth and the environment, Koda Energy is Shakopee, MN is a great friend to have. Starting with a groundbreaking in September of 2007, Koda Energy was founded as a joint venture between Rahr Malting and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). The facility began generating electricity in March 2009 and became fully operational in late May 2009. In 2020, Rahr purchased the SMSC's ownership stake, and Koda is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Rahr.
Koda Energy is dedicated to developing environmentally friendly energy, while not harming a single dinosaur. Koda creates bioenergy, energy created by burning exclusively natural, organic materials. Through this, Koda is cleaner than a coal plant, and considered CO2 neutral. Here’s how it works. According to the Department of Energy, “Biomass is a versatile renewable energy source. It can be converted into liquid transportation fuels that are equivalent to fossil-based fuels, such as gasoline, jet, and diesel fuel. Bioenergy technologies enable the reuse of carbon from biomass and waste streams into reduced-emissions fuels for cars, trucks, jets and ships; bioproducts; and renewable power.” Example of biomass that gets used to create energy are crop wastes, forest residues, purpose-grown grasses, woody energy crops, microalgae, urban wood waste, and even food waste. Koda gets its biomass fuel from the unused byproducts of cereal grain processing, and recycled wood residues.
To celebrate these Earth-friendly alternative fuels, Koda employees annually celebrate National Bioenergy Day. Started in 2013, Bioenergy Day is dedicated to celebrating this alternative energy option, and to educating the public on bioenergy. On this day, Koda Energy opens its doors to the public, offering tours, games, food, and education. Local businesses gather at Koda to show how they participate in saving the environment. Check out how Koda Energy celebrated their 6th Annual Bioenergy Day here, and with a video here.
The energy created by Koda Energy goes into supplying all of Rahr’s heat and electricity to the Shakopee campus, with additional capacity available to sell into the public grid (this is sold to Xcel Energy). Everything from thermal power for the malt kilns to the electrical supply for the office comes from Koda’s biomass-powered suspension fired boiler (the first of its kind in the US, and only the second one in the world). Since Koda Energy relies on biomass to create energy, Rahr Malting can produce quality “fossil-free” malt. Electrostatic precipitators strip ionized soot and smudge from the burner exhaust, leaving clean vapor venting into the air. Thanks to this process, Rahr generates greenest available malt to brewers and distillers.