Heineken to pour £25m into low carbon heat system for Manchester brewery

Article by Kerry Hebden

HEINEKEN UK, the maker of Heineken, Birra Moretti, and Foster's, has said it will pour £25m (US$32m) into a new low carbon heat technology project to slash emissions from its 700m-pint-a-year Manchester brewery. 

The project is designed to redistribute waste heat from the brewing process, via heat pumps to other parts of the site through an interconnected heat network to heat other processes such as mashing, pasteurisation and washing returnable kegs. 

GEA, a systems suppliers for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sector, will design, supply and install the heat network to the existing plant and will also modify the legacy process equipment.  

Currently, steam is produced in large steam boilers powered by natural gas. These will be replaced by a new system that uses a low temperature (90°C) hot water network driven by GEA heat pumps. 

GEA said its heat pump solution operates on an environmentally friendly ammonia refrigerant with zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and zero global warming potential (GWP). 

Distribution and recovery pipework make up the foundation of the network, which will absorb the heat from multiple processes, the firm said. 

Once finished, Heineken estimates a 45% reduction in gas usage at the site in Hulme could be made. 

The investment, which is supported by a £3.7m grant from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), is part of the firm’s global push to reach net zero across its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, and across its scope 3 value chain by 2040. 

To achieve this goal, Heineken said it is optimising its beverage production processes across all aspects from agriculture, brewing, packaging and distribution. 

In 2022, the firm said 58% of its total electrical energy came from renewable sources (solar, wind, hydro) while 28% of total thermal energy demand was renewable (biogas, waste heat pumps, biomass). Eventually the firm aims to have all its electricity to come from renewable sources. 

“Our 2022 scope 3 emissions decreased by 8% versus last year (2021: 17.5m t CO2e) and 8.5% vs the 2018 baseline (17.6m t CO2e),” Heineken said in its carbon footprint report for its global operations. 

In addition, Heineken says it strives to source all of its ingredients from sustainable sources, that all of its production sites are already zero waste to landfill, and that all have water treatment facilities. 

Boudewijn Haarsma, managing director at Heineken UK said: “This announcement is hugely positive and represents a sizeable inward investment from Heineken into UK decarbonisation. 

“We’ve been around for 150 years and if we want to be here in another 150 years, we need to act now to deliver on our sustainability ambitions. In short, we want to brew a better world.” 

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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