Multinational brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev and GE are teaming up to find ways to improve energy efficiency, conserve water and reduce CO2 emissions at the brewer’s facilities throughout China. The partnership with GE will help AB InBev realize its goal of reducing CO2 emissions by some 100,000 tons per year, along with making additional significant cuts in water and energy consumption.
Having reduced water consumption by 20% and energy consumption by more than 13% in 2010, AB InBev has established key resource efficiency and conservation performance indicators for 2012 that include reducing the water-to-beer ratio to produce its beers to 3.5:1. Management is looking at using biogas and natural gas as it strives aggressively to reduce CO2 emissions and its reliance on conventional fossil fuels and electrical power, according to a press release.
“If the pilot project succeeds and the gains can be shared across the larger food and beverage industry, it will move China closer to its goal of establishing a conservation-oriented society and move us closer to achieving the goal of a low-carbon economy,” one industry opinion leader commented.
Aiming to realize the brewer’s 2012 goals, the partners will initially focus on designing and implementing several key solutions, including:
- Energy management solutions that use advanced software systems to provide insight into the level of energy and water used, enabling visibility into potential energy and water losses, while allowing for a better understanding of where improvements can be made.
- Combined heat and power solutions that utilize gas engines will enable several AB InBev pilot sites to create electricity via either biogas or natural gas. With these engines achieving energy efficiency levels of 70 to 90 percent, the utilization of energy is dramatically improved.
- Waste-to-value solutions that will enable efficient use of water and energy normally left over from the manufacturing process.
GE’s energy infrastructure and systems expertise along with its China and global presence made it AB InBev’s partner of choice. GE has set up centralized food and beverage solutions centers and Customer Innovation Centers in China’s western, northern, central and southern regions.
“When GE expressed its desire to partner, we agreed without hesitation,” recounted Ricardo Dias, vice president of procurement for AB InBev APAC. “We are very pleased to engage in this strategic partnership with GE as we continue to strive for more sustainable manufacturing processes. As a brewing industry leader, we will continue to strive to establish a benchmark for energy innovation in the brewing industry and larger food and beverage marketplace.”
AB InBev and GE will pool their engineering resources and create an “Innovation Team” that will study the brewing and energy processes in use at the brewer’s Chinese plants. Solutions that prove successful in pilot projects will then be scaled-up and put to use at other locations.