Themed Week Energy Efficiency: Greener breweries

Energy efficiency is becoming a strategic issue for breweries across the world. With the right systems, brewers can use green manufacturing processes.
© Krones AG

Energy efficiency is becoming a strategic issue for breweries across the world. With the right systems and installations, brewers can use green manufacturing processes while reducing costs. Products embodying this new approach will be available at the upcoming drinktec trade fair.

Trend: Sustainable breweries

When you want to brew a great beer, you often don’t think about issues such as resource planning, controlling or ecological efficiency. But more and more breweries are now coming to terms with the facts: Energy costs account for at least ten percent of breweries’ total expenditures, and these costs can often determine the brewery’s success. In times of market concentration, mass production and price cuts, competition has become stiffer for many brewers. That’s why energy savings are the golden ticket for producers across the world today, as they begin to closely monitor and measure their energy usage like never before. Industry experts see this as a trend that will catch on in every single brewery over the coming years.

System manufacturers supply energy saving solutions

An increasing number of system technology manufacturers have now chosen to focus on efficiency. It is now a key selling point for them, as brewery bosses are paying increasing attention to the economic and sustainable aspects of their production lines when buying new technologies. For them, using energy in an efficient manner is an important area where savings can be made. The company Krones AG, which has its headquarters in the Upper Palatinate, is one of the market leaders in this field. The team at Krones AG, for example, developed a system through which high-quality beer can be brewed in a resource-friendly manner. “EquiTherm” is the method through which energy is extracted at a suitable point during the brewing process. The energy is then fed back again at a later point. The secret behind this technique is that waste heat is not used as primary heat, but rather as a “heat exchanger.” This approach also saves on cooling costs, electricity and fresh water requirements. Breweries such as Veltins and Paulaner are already making the most of this method so that they can produce beer that is, by and large, environmentally friendly. At drinktec 2017, Krones AG will be taking up an entire exhibition hall to unveil their latest innovations.

If the label reads renewable energy, then the beer used renewable energy

Industry leaders are not the only ones focusing on energy efficiency, sustainability and environmental protection. For Georg Rittmayer, who manages a mid-sized brewery in the Franconian town of Hallendorf, sustainability is also a key issue. The Rittmayer brewery has been granted the “Solarbier” seal. Such labels are a great aid for consumers, because they can then see which beers were produced with solar energy and other renewable energies. Georg Rittmayer is proud of this achievement: “We are doing something for the environment and we produce 100 percent carbon-neutral beer.” Rittmayer uses hydropower for electricity and generates heat for the brewing process with the aid of a woodchip boiler. Even in this case, the heat waste doesn’t simply escape the brewery. Instead, it is reintegrated into the production process. This means Rittmayer has a particularly low level of energy consumption. Dominik Bigge, Climate Protection Manager in the province of Franconia, describes the brewery as an outstanding example of how companies can make renewable energy solutions tangible.

If you would like to find out why Georg Rittmayer is focusing on energy efficiency, how Krones’ “EquiTherm” method works, or what potential savings there are to be had within the world of beer production, then make sure you visit this year’s drinktec. One of the main topics at drinktec is water and energy management at the water-technology@drinktec symposium. One in ten exhibitors already offers relevant solutions. At the PETnology Europe symposium, new PET innovations, such as PEF, will be on display. Visitors at drinktec will also discover more mindful ways of handling and managing energy and resources, as well as learn about sustainable beverage production. To find out more about the issues of tomorrow, including energy efficiency and sustainability, please consult the supporting program.

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).