Goal: Reduce energy intensity 10% from 2008 by 2018
New Belgium’s Energy Philosophy
To guide our decisions around renewable energy at New Belgium, we have adapted the familiar nutritional pyramid. We see “Energy Conservation” as the largest slice on the base of the pyramid. The most sustainable watt is the watt never produced, and conservation is usually the most pleasing option financially.
technology to source renewable resources is part of the solution, we must first
reduce our need for electricity - especially that demanded during peak
hours. Through investing in efficient
equipment, installing heat exchangers and designing with conservation in mind,
we have been able to greatly decrease our energy usage from the status quo.
Smart Grid & On-Site Power Generation
In 2010 New Belgium
installed a Smart Grid, partially funded by the FortZED project mentioned
below. What is a Smart Grid? A Smart Grid applies 21st century technology
to our power systems. Today’s electrical
grid is characterized by one-way flow of information, centralized, bulk
generation, and no data for consumers to use to manage their energy use. The smart grid enables the 2-way flow of both
energy and information. For example,
when we receive notice from our electricity provider, we can shut off non-essential
functions, like our HVAC system, to reduce the load on the grid and the need
for additional power generation at the utility.
Likely, cooling can be reduced for a short time without noticeably
affecting the ambient temperature in a room. We will also be able to integrate
our variable distributed generation (solar, biogas, etc) with the City’s supply
Closing a Loop: Power from Waste Water
brewing process gets treated; methane, a byproduct of the water treatment,
powers a generator which powers the brewery.
New Belgium utilizes
an on-site Process Water Treatment Plant (PWTP) where microbes clean all of our
production waste-water through a series of aerobic (with air) and anaerobic
(without air) basins. A byproduct of this
process, methane gas, is harvested and piped back to the brewery, where it
powers a 292kW combined heat and power (CHP or co-gen) engine. This engine can
produce up to 15% of our electrical needs and turns a waste stream into a
source of energy. It is a beautiful
example of a closed-loop system in our brewing process. But, like much that’s innovative, it
malfunctioned a bit in years past.
Through a partnership with locally headquartered Woodward, we installed
new controls equipment and the co-gen is running better than ever.
In January 2010 we
commissioned a 200 kW photovoltaic array on top of our Packaging Hall. At the time it was installed, it was the
largest privately owned array in Colorado.
It will produce almost 264,000 kWh each year and contribute over 3% of
our total electricity. This project was
partially funded by the FortZED partnership which you can read about below.
Purchased Green Power
In an effort to
reduce our carbon footprint, New Belgium conducted an energy audit in 1998
which showed that the single biggest emitter of CO2 in our process was from the
electricity we used supplied by coal- burning power plants. As a result, New Belgium employee-owners
voted to dip into their bonus pool to subscribe to the City of Fort Collins’
Wind Program at a premium of 2.5 cents more per kWh than fossil-fueled
electricity (or, 57% more, at the time).
Thus: New Belgium Brewing became the country’s first brewery to purchase
100% of its electricity from wind power in 1999.
Our co-workers still
relay the story of the wind-power vote as a personally defining experience that
cemented their commitment to NBB and to sustainability. Their enthusiasm put the environmental
stewardship value Kim and Jeff committed to during the hike in Rocky Mountain
National Park into action in a bonding, memorable, unanimous way.
When we started
purchasing wind power, 100% of it was generated by turbines in Medicine Bow, WY
which is tied directly to our grid. The
City erected an additional turbine/monopole just to supply New Belgium with our
electricity for the next ten years. In fact, our commitment as the single
largest subscriber in the program allowed Fort Collins Utilities to become
Colorado’s first electric utility to offer wind power. This is an example of “the ripple effect”,
described later in this report, almost 10 years before we put a name to it.
Renewable Energy Credits
RECs: “to be eaten sparingly”
Currently, 17% of
the City’s renewable energy comes from the Medicine Bow wind farm and the rest
comes from wind-generated renewable energy credits (RECs) from Wyoming,
Oklahoma, and Kansas, as well as landfill gas RECs from Idaho. New Belgium also purchases RECs for the
offsite warehouse that we lease.
Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration
Many of our efforts
would not have been possible if NBB had attempted them alone. When we collaborate with other talented
organizations and institutions in our community, we find we can reach heights
impossible to achieve on our own.
In 2007, New Belgium partnered with the City
of Fort Collins, Colorado State University and other energy-focused companies
to apply for a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to demonstrate 20 - 30
percent peak electric load reduction.
The collaborative project will be the first phase of implementing
FortZED, a long term vision for a zero energy district in downtown Fort
Collins. (Learn more at www.fortzed.com.)
In April, 2008, the DOE announced that the
City and its partners will receive $6.3 million in federal grant money to
research, develop and demonstrate new electric grid technologies. $4.9 million
in matching funds, including cash and in-kind services, have also been donated
to make the DOE grant a reality.
For New Belgium,
this meant installing $3 million in new load-shedding and on-site generation
capabilities, funded 50% in house, 25% by the DOE and 25% by in-kind
donations. Our goal is to be able to
create or shed 1000kWof electricity—almost our annual peak load– through solar
PV, co-generation, metering and controls.
New Belgium uses
natural gas for thermal energy (i.e., heating water, creating steam) and works
to conserve natural gas through recovery systems which close heat loops in the
With our Steinecker
‘Merlin’ Brew Kettle, we are able to reduce our natural gas consumption by
cutting the boil time in half. Instead
of boiling from the outside in, the Merlin has a cone shaped boiler plate that
flash boils the wort. The accelerated boiling reduces natural gas consumed and
cuts back on water lost to evaporation.