BrewDog unveils £12m anaerobic digestor to create green gas for its Ellon brewery

Craft brewer BrewDog has today (16 June) announced the commissioning of a new onsite bio-energy plant at its Ellon headquarters near Aberdeen, in a move that will reduce emissions by powering facilities with self-generated green gas.


BrewDog unveils £12m anaerobic digestor to create green gas for its Ellon brewery

Later this year, BrewDog will use the surplus green gas generated onsite to fuel delivery vehicles, with the remainder sent back to the grid.

BrewDog has invested £12m into its bio-energy plant, which features an onsite anaerobic digester that will process the majority of the 200 million litres of wastewater that is produced at the company’s Ellon brewery each year.

The digester will treat both wastewater and spent yeast and hops from the brewing process to create biomethane. The gas will be used to power the brewery’s boilers and looks set to reduce emissions at the site by more than 7,500 tonnes annually once the plant is running at full capacity. The gas will be used to power the production of more than 176 million pints of beer each year.

BrewDog aims to use the CO2 created by the digester to carbonate its beer over the coming years. Later this year, BrewDog will use the surplus green gas generated onsite to fuel delivery vehicles, with the remainder sent back to the grid.

BrewDog’s director of sustainability Sarah Warman said: “We’re not just here to make great beer – we’re making great beer that doesn’t cost the Earth. Our ambition is nothing short of making BrewDog beer the most planet-friendly beer on Earth, and we’ve taken giant strides towards that goal with our new bio-energy plant.

“Our number one sustainability goal is to reduce emissions, and we want to lead the way for the entire brewing industry. We want all our teams to feel like the work they do supports our mission to protect the planet.”

The Ellon brewery, which opened in 2013, has reduced the volume of water it takes to make beer by more than 50%. Once fully operational, the digester will create around 200 cubic metres of biomethane per hour – equivalent to around 23,000 MWh of energy per year. This is enough to heat more than 1500 hours.

It forms part of a wider £50m that the company has made to slash carbon emissions per hectolitre of beer by 35% versus its baseline in 2019.

Carbon negative beer

BrewDog’s sustainability initiatives also include one of the largest tree planting and peatland restoration projects the UK has ever seen. The 9,308-acre Lost Forest near Aviemore will see more than 1.1million trees planted, alongside peatland restoration, and will be capable of removing significant carbon from the atmosphere over the next 100 years.

The investment builds toward BrewDog’s existing sustainability targets, which includes reducing emissions while “double offsetting” remaining emissions that it generates across Scope 1 (direct), Scope 2 (power-related) and upstream Scope 3 (indirect) sources.

The brewer made a commitment to remove twice as much carbon from the air each year as it emits, with the first year being August 2020 through August 2021.

Since it began “double removing” carbon emissions in August 2020, the company has had to removed almost 2,900 tonnes of CO2e for each of the 19 weeks remaining in 2020 – equating to almost 55,000 tonnes. The company actually went and removed almost 60,000 tonnes “just to be on the safe side”.

The company has also announced that its “Lost Forest” initiative has been given approval to start planting trees.

The Lost Forest encapsulates more than 9,300 acres of Scottish highlands at the Kinrana estate and looks set to form one of the UK’s largest native woodland and peatland restoration projects and the largest corporate-backed initiative of its kind.

Over the next five years, BrewDog aims to plant 1.1 million trees to create a rich and vibrant bio-diverse woodland ecosystem.

Earlier this week, edie visited to the lost forest and discussed the initiative with co-founder James Watt. Read that exclusive feature on the edie homepage.

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