In many parts of the world, the move to make industrial plants more efficient in their use of water and power has been gathering speed over the past decade as companies seek to improve energy efficiency in their factories and warehouses and cut heating and electricity bills.
Breweries are no exception, with the iconic 193-year-old Bitburger Brewery in Bitburg, Germany using an innovative technology involving the conversion of biogas into electricity, steam and hot water to meet the brewery’s process requirements.
The system, which Bitburger has used over the past seven years, is a combined heat and power (CHP) plant powered by General Electric’s Jenbacher J312 gas engine. The plant burns biogas created during the wastewater treatment process to produce energy and heat.
GE says the system, which recently reached 50,000 hours of operation, has delivered results for Bitburger, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by around 10,000 tons, improving the reliability of electricity supply and delivering primary energy savings of around ten per cent compared with the site’s previous steam energy boiler technology.
GE says the technology, which produces 624 kilowatts of electricity and 700 kilowatts of thermal power – including 300 watts of steam power – provides the option to run the engine either on biogas as a by-product of the production process or on natural gas, allowing the brewery to run independently and operate smoothly in the event that the grid fails.
GE says that while breweries represent a traditional segment for distributed power generation to meet on-site power needs, excitement abounds surrounding prospects for CHP applications in German markets as the country strives to meet its energy turnaround efforts and targets as part of the European Union’s 20-20-20 initiative.