While there are many breweries today with a solar thermal component, global brewmeister Heineken has gone one step farther. It’s on its way to creating the first 100% carbon neutral brewery, which includes solar thermal, as well as innovative waste-heat-to-energy technology.
With over 250 brands in 70 countries, Heineken’s “Green Brewery” project is a significant step towards the company’s goal of a 40% reduction of CO2 emission across its entire global business by 2020. The company selected its Gösser brand for the project, a popular pale lager in Austria that’s associated with natural ingredients.
The Gösser brewery’s carbon neutral energy for production is made from several components. On the solar thermal side, Heineken installed a 1,500 m² of solar hot water collectors that will preheat the initial water required for the brewing process to around 130 degrees. At that point, the remaining heat needed to raise the water temperature to around 160 degrees is met from waste heat discharged from a nearby sawmill.
In total, 90% of the waste heat generated in the brewing process is being used to heat water. Additionally, a new boiling system was introduced, which helps save the brewery almost 200,000 kilowatt-hours of power and over 6,400 cubic meters of water per year.
The use of 100% renewable energy in beer production allows massive reductions in CO2 emissions for the brewery, but the facility isn’t totally carbon neutral—at least not yet.
Refrigeration, lighting, and other production needs still require non-renewable energy, but Heineken says that the ultimate aim is for the brewery to become a fully CO2-neutral operation. Currently, around 55-60% of the energy consumed by the facility is renewable thermal energy, which includes the solar thermal system. The additional off-site energy used by the facility is made up of 100% green electricity, such as wind and solar PV.
In fact, Heineken’s Austrian subsidiary, Brau Union Österreich, which manages the Gösser, already uses 100% offsite renewable energy for all of its brands, and says it will apply the lessons learned at the Gösser facility to its other Austrian breweries.
As experienced solar thermal engineers and designers for breweries, apartment buildings, and other industrial facilities, Free Hot Water applauds Heineken’s solar thermal and zero carbon initiatives. If you’re an industrial brewery or microbrewery wanting to reduce your environmental footprint and your water heating costs, please contact us for a free consultation.