Clean Generation – Biogas
Miller Brewing Company (MB), in pursuit of aggressive environmental responsibility goals, continuously strives to reduce both energy consumption and waste generation. At MB’s Irwindale, California, brewery, EPS and MB identified an opportunity to achieve both of the above by building an anaerobic digester, which uses waste beer to generate biogas, and installing a biogas-powered cogeneration plant, which generates electricity and heat to be used in the brewery. MB intended to implement this project provided the return on investment, flexibility and avoidance of emissions offered were sufficiently compelling.
EPS was selected to perform the engineering, design, procurement and construction activities related to the installation of the generator and electrical interconnection for a 1 MW biogas-powered cogeneration plant. After exploring several manufacturers and engines, EPS selected the GE Jenbacher 312, 540 kWe engine for its ability to meet Miller’s criteria for success.
Biogas was recovered from beer waste by utilizing an anaerobic digester that was built by others as part of the project. The biogas was used to fuel the cogeneration plant, which produced electricity to power the facility. The thermal energy produced by the cogeneration plant was used to heat the digester, and make high-quality steam/hot water for use in various beer manufacturing processes.
EPS implemented the complex biogas cogeneration project on schedule and within budget. The scope of work performed by EPS included project management, permitting, commissioning the completed plant, and securing all available rebates for the project.
The new biogas-powered cogeneration plant provides the brewery with 1 MW of power each hour. This not only saves MB the cost of purchasing that power from their electric utility, but reduces its carbon footprint by providing the California brewery with needed power at a lower emissions rate. In addition, it helps MB reduce their waste by using recycled waste as fuel.
The economic benefits of the project rival the environmental ones. An investor-owned utility offers an incentive of up to $1 million to large commercial/industrial businesses to implement energy efficiency projects that save at least 200,000 therms per year. As part of the project, MB received a check for $1 million, the maximum rebate available under the incentive program. This represents one of the largest rebates ever secured on a project of this kind in the state of California and boosted the simple payback on the project to less than one year.