British beverage manufacturing sites forge ahead with low-carbon heating innovations

Image: Heineken

Heineken announced on Monday (17 July) that it will undertake a £25m scheme to reduce direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions at its Manchester-based brewery, as it works to reach net-zero in these scopes by 2030.

The funding will be used to replace gas-fired heating with heat pumps and to procure renewable electricity to power the new heating system. The system will, crucially, run across all parts of the site and will enable excess heat from one process to be captured and reused in another.

Work to fit the new technologies will begin next year and be completed by the end of 2024. Most of the funding for the project is provided by Heineken and other private investors, with the Government providing a £3.7m grant for heat capture technologies through the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund.

Heineken operates three production sites in the UK and it is hoped that learnings from Manchester can be replicated at other sites in Tadcaster and Hereford.

Heineken UK’s managing director said: ““This announcement is hugely positive and represents a sizeable inward investment from [our business] into UK decarbonisation.

“There’s been a brewery at this site for well over 100 years, and we’ve been proudly brewing in Manchester for fifteen years. With the city of Manchester’s ambition to reach net-zero by 2038, we want to play our part in this journey for the city and its people, and to share the learnings we gather along the way.”

In related news, Chivas Brothers this week announced plans to share the blueprint for its heat recovery and low-carbon heat system at its Glentauchers Scotch whisky distillery.  The heat recovery technologies, including Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR) and Thermo Vapour Recompression (TVR), are designed to capture and recycle heat generated in the distillation process that would otherwise go to waste.

The mix of technologies at the site has reduced energy use relating to the whisky distillation process by 53% so far. The site, as a whole, now consumes 48% less energy. As with Heineken’s project, Chivas Brothers’ was partially funded using public investment, from the Scottish Government.

Chivas Brothers’ chief executive and chairman Jean-Etienne Gourgues said: “Heat recovery forms a critical part of our commitment to achieve carbon-neutral distillation by 2026.

“Findings with such significant impact must be shared; this technology has the potential to transform our industry and accelerate its progress to net zero… As a business with a long history of innovation, we believe this is the right thing to do.“

It’s electric

Also this week, a Carlsberg Group subsidiary based in Lithuania has become the first brewer in the Baltics to sign a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that will enable it to operate using 100% renewable electricity.

The brewer, ŠUA, has entered a partnership with energy developer and service firm Green Genius to procure energy from two solar and storage plants. The first of the plants will come online at ŠUA’s facility in Utena city in May 2024. The second will be larger and will come online in early 2025 near Butrimonys town.

ŠUA already hosts a 1MW rooftop solar array in Utena city and has been working with Green Genius since 2018. The new onsite installation will be 1.5MW while the utility-scale project is 5MW.

ŠUA’s chief executive Rolandas Virsilas said: “For a long time, we have been using only electricity from renewable sources. Now we are raising the bar higher – we will use only local and only self-produced electricity that contributes new green electricity to the grid.

“I believe that our example will encourage other Lithuanian businesses to take similar actions, because by investing in new green energy capacities, we are not only getting involved in the green transformation but also taking care of Lithuania’s energy security, which, as the events of recent years show, is extremely important”.

Carlsberg Group has a global net-zero target in place for 2040.

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