Brewery benefiting from CHP

Through a combination of energy conservation measures, on-site renewable power generation, green power and renewable energy credit purchases, the New Belgium Brewery in Boulder, Colorado, US is a leader in sustainability.

Biomass Power and Thermal reports that as the beer-making processes in general require a significant amount of water - roughly five gallons of water for every gallon of beer—the facility goes the extra mile to make the most out of its waste water by hosting an on-site process water treatment plant (PWTP).

There, water that was used in the beer-making process is sent through a series of aerobic and anaerobic basins, and the resulting methane is piped back to the brewery where it powers a 292 kilowatt (kW) combined-heat-and-power (CHP) engine.

Sarah Uhl, enculturation specialist at New Belgium Brewery, says the CHP system was installed about seven years ago, and a second biogas generator was recently commissioned. “So one provides energy for the PWTP, and the other is utilized to supplement facility electricity, which can be up to 15 percent,” she says.

In 2009 alone, the CHP system generated 957,000 kilowatt hours and saved the brewery nearly $60,000 in electricity costs.

In addition to the PWTP and CHP system, a 200 kW photovoltaic array sits on the top of the brewery's packaging hall to contribute more than 3 per cent of the facility’s electrical needs. Spent grains from the brewing process are sold to a local farmer who feeds them to his cattle. 

The dual-stop conference tour will also include Boulder County’s forest management operation and biomass energy facility, where proactive forest management minimizes fire hazards and improves the health of the county’s forests, while producing renewable heat.

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