As a result of bars and pubs closures during the COVID-19 lockdowns, all brewers find themselves with millions of liters of unsold beer on their hands. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has predicted that around 87 million pints will have been thrown away in the United Kingdom as a result.
Now, the team at the HEINEKEN brewery in Manchester has found an innovative way to turn this wasted beer into green energy to power the brewing kettles and canning pasteurizers.
First, the machine that fills beer kegs destined for pubs has been put into reverse, for the first time, to empty thousands of kegs of the old beer. This beer is then stored in empty brewing vessels before being drip-fed into the site’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). It’s then put into the anaerobic digester at the WWTP that helps convert the beer into biogas, which is captured to create renewable and sustainable energy. A powerful combined heat and power unit (CHP), housed inside an innocuous-looking shipping container, converts the biogas into heat and electricity.
The WWTP has been operating at full capacity processing the equivalent of 70,000 liters of beer a day. Since May 2020, the brewery has converted an incredible 83,210 fifty-liter kegs into green energy. Utilizing the equivalent of almost seven million pints that would have otherwise gone to waste, they have produced enough power to heat nearly 28,000 average UK homes for a day, make 45,488,120 cups of tea or power 6,317,794 hours of binge-watching.
“After all the care, attention, and passion that went into brewing the beer in the first place, it would have been a great shame to pour it down the drain – no brewer wants to see their beer not be enjoyed,” said Matt Callan, Brewery and Operations Director at HEINEKEN. “Our team of engineers and brewers at Manchester found a solution – using our kegging line to empty beer barrels and turning the beer that would have gone to waste into green energy to power the brewing of fresh beer, all ready for when the pubs re-open.“