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Bioenergy in beer production

The shift from heating with oil to wood chips, sourced from residual wood in the Danish forestry and wood works industry, demonstrates that it is not only environmentally and technically sustainable – it is also a good business case.

“It can’t be done”. “It is not possible to use renewable energy sources in production with variable consumption loads”. “It is also too expensive”. “It is too difficult to operate”. These are the words we often hear at Focus BioEnergy when we approach companies with our solutions based on primary biofuels. However, we have proven technology that demonstrates how this is in fact not the case, and we have shown that it is both technically possible, easy to operate and economically sound to make the switch to renewable energy.

Brewery Vestfyen

Take for instance Brewery Vestfyen, where two boilers running on 700,000 litres of heating oil each year have been replaced with a boiler running on wood chips sourced from residual wood in the Danish forestry and wood works industry, which has been producing CO2 neutral energy since January 2015, with an expected yearly consumption of 10,000 m3. The brewery is medium-sized with a yearly production of cans and bottles containing beer and soft drinks exceeding 120 million units. The brewery uses steam at 5 bar for a number of different processes, of which a few run around the clock, while most process run between a few minutes to 3-4 hours. The yearly energy consumption is around 30,000 GJ, with highly variable energy consumption across the day.

The secret lies in the pressure

The secret to overcome the challenge of variable consumption lies in the high pressure boilers, which, at Brewery Vestfyen, utilises steam at 60 bar at 280 0C, as well as designing the solution in such a way, that the entire system acts as a spring for fluctuations. The 14-month time span to implement the solution came at a cost of EUR 2.05 million with a simple payback time of 2.6 years. The plant helps the brewery save 2000 tonnes of CO₂ each year.

Achieving operational success

After operating for 1 year, the wood chip boiler solution has proved its operational  merits. Originally, 900 hours per year had been allocated for  perational support to ensure a stable supply of green energy, but looking back at the past year, only 200 hours of support was needed, including the
24/7 support. In fact, the plant operates at such a high level of stability and efficiency that a project has been initiated to experiment with other biomass resources, for instance corn husks, in order to bring down the costs even more.

Investing in this solution has thus enabled Brewery Vestfyen to reduce its carbon impact, minimise its energy expenses while also gain a competitive advantage through a green company profile that is not just writing on
the wall, but integrated into the heart of our brewery operations.

competitive bioenergy

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