Securing production subsidies for climate-neutral beer

grünes Blatt
Über die Bundesförderung für Energie- und Ressourceneffizienz in der Wirtschaft können Brauereien auf dem Weg zu klimaneutralem Bier gefördert werden. Was braucht es dazu? (Foto: AStoKo auf Pixabay)

Federal funding for energy and resource efficiency in the economy means that breweries can receive support as they transition toward climate-neutral beer. What’s needed for this?

Beer production is on the path to climate neutrality thanks to the funding of climate-neutral beer. This is driven by the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Germany by 65% by 2030 – as compared to 1990. Germany will then be climate neutral by 2045. To this end, everyone must pull together. Furthermore, the pressure to implement these goals is rising, due in large part to the two planned climate protection packages from the German government by summer 2022. Energy-conscious companies already must become climate neutral. And beer production can also benefit from energy funding programs.

Climate neutrality means that the environment is unaffected by a process or activity. This concerns all greenhouse gases, such as CO2, methane and fluorinated hydrocarbons. In other words, either no greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere, or any emissions are entirely compensated for. Meanwhile, CO2 neutrality refers solely to CO2. Both terms are often used interchangeably.

National and international regulations on climate neutrality

For Europe, the Green Deal aims to expand renewable energies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency. The EU plans to be climate neutral by 2050. Moreover, European climate law should apply in all member states, and the appropriate measures must be taken. The EU Commission is monitoring progress.

The change in German climate protection law from August 2021 has led to the German federal government tightening the country’s climate protection regulations: Emissions will be reduced by 65% by as early as 2030 compared to 1990, and greenhouse gas neutrality will be achieved by 2045. In addition, federal states and municipalities are defining their own reduction goals and deadlines for climate neutrality. This is further influencing the corporate carbon footprint of German companies.

Klimawandel Plakat
Photo: / Scott Evans

The federal government has created legal guidelines for a systematic change toward climate neutrality.

Energy-intensive beer production

The CO2 balance of beer to date is sobering. Beer production is an energy-intensive sector of the food industry that consumes approximately 4 TWh per year in Germany. This energy demand is split between heating, at around 75%, and electrical energy, at approximately 25%. Energy costs comprise 5-10% of the overall cost of beer production.

The individual energy consumption of a brewery essentially depends on the scale of operations. Other factors include output, technical equipment, the production program and geographical position. Many breweries currently utilize heating from fossil fuels and the electrical energy of their energy supplier. In contrast, renewable energies have so far only been implemented to a limited extent [1].

Further information:

Federal funding for energy and resource efficiency in the economy, 5 modules:

Transformation concepts (module 5):
Planning and implementing transformation towards climate neutrality:

VDI Centre for Resource Efficiency:

In 2007, the Integrated Energy and Climate Programme (IEKP) of the German government defined, among other things, the following goals for breweries moving toward climate-neutral beer:

  • Simplified biogas supply into the natural gas grid and increased usage in the combined heat and power (CHP);
  • utilization of more CHP;
  • intelligent measuring methods for energy consumption: determining consumption, enabling system optimization, recognizing and eliminating disruptions and leaks;
  • increase in the share of renewable energies (e.g., Renewable Energy Heat Act)
  • and the introduction of an energy management system and operational environment management.

What can companies do for their corporate carbon footprint?

Energy and resource efficiency offer a competitive advantage. Companies that conduct business in an energy-conscious way are better equipped when they face new demands in the future, for example, standards for energy efficiency, trading systems for emissions and conditions for funds from energy funding programs.

The path to climate neutrality involves a strategy of avoiding, reducing and compensating for or otherwise neutralizing the unavoidable emissions remainder. A systematic approach makes this transition easier: According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), a transformation concept is only necessary if it contains at least the following:

  • Presentation of the current state of the GHG emissions or the GHG balance within the selected balance limits;
  • formulation of a GHG neutrality goal by no later than 2045;
  • a long-term (at least ten years after application) and specific GHG goal (target state) for the sites in question;
  • action plan for reaching the goal or conducting the transformation;
  • saving concept(s) for at least one project of the EEW funding program (EEW see “Possible subsidies”)
  • and anchoring the transformation concept in the company structure.

Corporate carbon footprint and beer’s CO2 balance

Therefore, a GHG or CO2 balance forms the basis for defining strategies for further actions. Although direct emissions (scope 1) and indirect emissions, such as those from related electricity, steam, heating and cooling (scope 2), can be determined with great precision, it takes a lot of effort to measure indirect GHG emissions resulting from upstream and/or downstream processes (scope 3). For example, this includes GHG emissions from the delivery of raw materials or the further processing of purchased goods.

Several breweries are already advertising their climate-neutral beer or company. Some are setting a goal of when they want their brewing to be climate neutral. This corporate carbon footprint (CCF) comprises direct and indirect GHG emissions released by the companies’ activities. On the other hand, the product carbon footprint (PCF) allows for assessments of the climate balance of a product.

Free assessment tools are available, such as the ecocockpit from the efficiency agency NRW: This web-based application lets those in charge generate the CO2 balance of their company (CCF) or their products (PCF) in just a few steps. Furthermore, the CO2 drivers can be identified and reduction measures can be determined.

Management systems for energy, environment and climate

Operational environment management aims to record and avoid emissions, as well as reduce relevant emissions sources on-site and from upstream and downstream activities along the value chain. To date, there is no norm for a climate management system. An international standard, ISO 14068 “Greenhouse gas management and related activities — Carbon neutrality” aims to supply clear terminology definitions and parameters for CO2 neutrality in the future, with content to be transferred from the PAS 2060 specification.

Currently, in addition to the ISO 14064 series, PAS 2060 and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol provide useful guidance for determining and reporting greenhouse gases. ISO 14067 defines the requirements and guidelines for the CO2 footprint of products.

Companies that already maintain an energy management system (EnMS) in line with ISO 50001, or an operational environment management system in line with ISO 14001 or EMAS, have it easier. The existing organization, communication and control structures create synergies.

Moreover, the analysis of the CO2 balance is required for sustainability reports as part of participation in the German Sustainability Code (DNK).

CO2 Fußabdruck
Photo: / Gerd Altmann

Corporate carbon footprint (CCF), a company’s direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, as well as product carbon footprint (PCF), the climate balance of a product, can be determined for free via web-based applications

Climate neutral beer: Energy efficiency in beer production

In beer production, energy is required most for heating, cooling, drive systems, compressed air and CO2 creation. Therefore, energy and resource efficiency should be taken into account to improve the CO2 balance of beer.

Many companies are implementing effective measures for increasing energy efficiency, including:

  • Recovering and storing waste heat;
  • Optimizing heating and cooling rates;
  • converting from steam to hot water distribution;
  • insulating systems (or parts thereof) and rooms with high or low temperature levels (pipes for ice water, hot water and steam);
  • regularly checking the compressed air network for leaks;
  • utilizing innovative cooling and CHP systems;
  • replacing coal burners
  • and utilizing solar heat and photovoltaics.

When using biogas from production waste in connection with a combined heat and power plant (CHP) with absorption heat cooler, fossil fuels can be dispensed with and energy costs can be reduced.

Possible subsidies and energy funding programs

With the “federal funding for energy and resource efficiency in the economy” (EEW) program, companies in every sector can receive funding. The energy funding program comprises the following five modules.

  • Cross-sectional technologies: Investment measures for increasing energy efficiency
  • Process heat from renewable energies: Replacing or newly purchasing facilities for providing heat from solar collector systems, heat pumps or biomass systems
  • MSR, sensors and energy management software: Software and hardware in connection with the establishment or application of an energy or environmental management system
  • Energy and resource-related optimization of systems and processes
  • Transformation concepts: Transformation toward greenhouse gas neutrality

The subsidy for module five (transformation concepts) comprises up to €80,000. For small and medium-sized enterprises, 60% (otherwise: 50%) of the costs are covered for:

  • Creating and certifying a CO2 balance for one or more sites that belong to a company, a group of companies or company sites (convoy) – on the condition that all of the sites are located in Germany;
  • energy consultants and other consulting costs connected to the creation of the transformation concept, including the introduction of implementation processes (climate protection management);
  • cross-company advice (e.g., for companies in a supply chain that are advised as part of a joint convoy process)
  • and necessary measurements, data collection and data procurement for the creation of the transformation concept.

Personal contributions or costs for conducting an energy audit in accordance with section 8 et seq. of the Federal Act on Energy Services and other Energy Efficiency Measures (EDL-G), as well as consulting services that have already been funded in connection with another federal consultancy funding program, aren’t eligible.

On the way to climate-neutral beer

Breweries must shape the change toward producing climate neutral beer, and they can benefit from energy subsidies by doing so. Pioneers have competitive advantages: customers demand responsibility for environmental and climate protection, and investments should be sustainable.


Schmid, S.; Hofmann, T.; Glas, K.: “Energie als Rohstoff einer Brauerei,” Der Weihenstephaner No. 4, 2019, S. 148–153; available at

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