Bacardi to slash emissions footprint with CHP plant
Spirits giant Bacardi has unveiled plans to install a combined heat and power (CHP) array at its rum distillery in Puerto Rico, which is forecast to halve the facility's operational emissions.
Announced this week, the CHP plant forms part of Bacardi’s plans to halve operational (Scope 1 and 2) emissions globally by 2025, against a 2015 baseline. This ambition has been verified in line with 1.5C by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
The CHP system will replace the heavy fuel oil currently used for heating processes at the distillery with propane gas, cutting the site’s operational emissions by 50%. In terms of Bacardi’s overall operational emissions footprint, a 14% reduction is forecast.
Bacardi is planning to bring the CHP plant online in 2023. CHP plants convert a single fuel into both electricity and heat in a single process. Significantly, the heat is captured and can then be ‘recycled’ for space heating, cooling, domestic hot water and industrial processes.
This means that many organisations that use a lot of heat are able to save energy, carbon and costs by installing onsite CHP solutions. Another distillery using CHP is The Macallan distillery in Speyside, Scotland. Other options for decarbonising distillery heating that are less mature include hydrogen.
Bacardi has already made several interventions to improve the environmental sustainability of the rum distillery in Puerto Rico. It has installed a wastewater treatment system that is used to generate biogas, for example, that is used to generate around 60% of the electricity used by the distillery.
Elsewhere, the plant has installed a system that recaptures the condensate generated during distillation, which improves energy and water efficiency.
“We are committed to cutting our GHG emissions by reducing our energy consumption and switching to the most sustainable form of energy in the countries where we operate,” said Bacardi’s global vice president for safety, quality and sustainability, Rodolfo Nervi.
“While natural gas is the most responsible energy source in Puerto Rico right now, we are continuing to explore ways in which we can reduce our use of carbon-based fuels even further and take more positive steps towards our ultimate goal of net-zero.”
Bacardi is yet to set a deadline date for its net-zero vision, but it will be after the 2030 science-based targets deadline.
To Nervi’s point on future decarbonisation initiatives for the distillery, Bacardi is exploring the possibility of using an onsite carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility to capture CO2 generated in the fermentation process. The CO2 could then be sold for use in other industries, like carbonated drinks. Captured carbon is also set to be sold to the carbonated drinks industry by Drax, which hosts a bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project at its power plant in Selby, Yorkshire.
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CHP was a good choice 30 years ago. But a new investment in 2022 in a fossil fuel plant, even a more energy-efficient fossil fuel plant, is a lock in for probably 20 years or more. Climate change is not going to wait that long. A carbon tax could easily turn this CHP plant into a white elephant.