Brewery combines wind, solar and biogas

Between biogas, wind and solar, Anheuser-Busch generates about half of its electricity from renewable energy to make beer at its Fairfield, California plant.

The company is the largest in the US to use nutrients in its wastewater to make biogas, a process called bio-energy recovery systems (BERS).

They also recover the steam that heats boilers in the brew house to produce energy, in addition to retrofitting with more efficient boiler burners, air compressors and lighting systems.

They get another 4% of electricity from 6,500 solar panels that cover 6.5 acres.

Most recently, they installed a 340-foot high wind turbine that will supply 20% of the plant’s electriciity, the first at a US brewery.

Foundation Windpower owns the wind turbine and sells the power to Anheuser-Busch at a fixed rate for 20 years. With no upfront cost, the company gets the benefit of a guaranteed electricity rate in a state where rates have been rising an average of 5.9% a year.

“While rate hikes have slowed somewhat in recent times, it is more economical to lock in energy costs at today’s low prices, and obtain long-term predictability, than to face volatile electricity prices in the future for grid delivered power,” John Pimentel, president of Foundation Windpower, told North Bay Business Journal. “Renewable energy is the ultimate hedge against public power rate increases.”

Electricity savings from wind turbines range from 5-20%, depending on local wind conditions, the type of turbine and its efficiency.

The 700,000 square foot brewery makes 136 million gallons a year.