Alternative fuels to power Anheuser-Busch breweries

Anheuser-Busch is brewing green beer in alternative fuel-powered breweries.

More than five billion twelve-oz. servings of beer – or about one in seven beers brewed by Anheuser-Busch in the United States – are expected to be brewed using renewable fuel by the end of 2009, thanks to efforts at the company’s 12 United States breweries. The company’s breweries in Houston and Fairfield, California, are currently installing alternative energy technology that will be operational by year end, and as a result the company’s breweries will run on more than 15 percent renewable fuel.

The Houston brewery will use biogas from a nearby landfill as part of an alternative fuel plan that when combined with the facility’s bio-energy recovery system (BERS), is anticipated to provide more than 70 percent of the brewery’s fuel needs. The Fairfield brewery will use BERS, and receive electricity from solar panels being hosted on-site.

Anheuser-Busch has entered into an agreement with Ameresco McCarty Energy to purchase biogas from Allied Waste Services’ McCarty Road Landfill in Houston. Currently, some of the biogas from the McCarty Road Landfill is being captured, processed and sold to a local utility, while the excess is flared. Ameresco plans to capture some of that unused biogas and transport it to the Anheuser-Busch brewery through a six-mile underground pipeline.

The Fairfield brewery will generate 15 percent of its fuel needs from a Bio-Energy Recovery System (BERS) that is currently under construction. BERS technology turns nutrients in brewing wastewater into renewable biogas that is used to decrease the use of natural gas. In addition, the Fairfield brewery has entered into an agreement with SunEdison to host a solar power plant on the brewery’s property. The solar energy system will generate the equivalent of approximately three percent of the brewery’s electricity needs and also generate Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for businesses or individuals to purchase to offset their use of fossil fuel energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The 1.18 megawatt (DC) photovoltaic system will be constructed during the late summer.

Once the Houston and Fairfield projects are operational, 10 of Anheuser-Busch’s 12 United States breweries will be producing renewable fuel. Plans are currently underway to construct the 11th BERS in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2009. The company’s brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado does not operate a BERS but applies nutrient-rich brewery wastewater to nearby land to grow crops that can be turned into biofuel. Anheuser-Busch is also exploring the use of wind, solar, wood and landfill gas at several other breweries.