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O-24. Breaking the barriers to collaborative waste-to-energy systems

Presenter: Jeff C. VanVoorhis, Symbiont Science, Engineering and Construction, Inc., Milwaukee, WI

The number of breweries in the United States is at the highest level since prohibition ended in 1933. Craft brewing is the fastest growing market segment of the U.S. alcoholic beverage industry, according to data gathered by the Brewers Association. Annually, breweries in the United States spend over $200 million on energy. Total energy expenditures for malt beverages account for 56% of expenditures. Energy consumption is equal to 3–8% of the production costs of beer, making energy efficiency improvement an important way to reduce costs, especially in times of high energy price volatility. Uncertain energy prices in today’s marketplace negatively affect predictable earnings, a concern for companies in the beer industry. For public and private companies alike, increasing energy prices are driving up costs and decreasing their value added. Successful, cost-effective investment into energy efficiency technologies such as waste-to-energy meets the challenge of maintaining the output of a high-quality product. Energy efficiency is an important component of a company’s environmental strategy, as well. End-of-pipe solutions can be expensive and inefficient, while energy efficiency can often be an inexpensive opportunity to reduce pollutant emissions. Energy efficiency can be an effective strategy to work toward the “triple bottom line” that focuses on the social, economic, and environmental aspects of a business. Waste-to-energy is a cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption within a short payback period and accrue other benefits, such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions, reducing waste, and saving water. Creating energy from waste materials of the brewing process is important for breweries that are concerned with changing regulations. Today and in the future it will become very difficult for the brewing industry to dispose of its waste materials. Due to new regulations and higher standards for waste treatment, producers are being forced to find new methods of cost-neutral discharge of their biological waste that also meet regulatory requirements. This presentation will examine energy efficiency opportunities available to breweries using waste-to-energy technologies and financing to implement projects that result in an aggressive payback. We will explore anaerobic wastewater treatment, an alternative method for treating industrial wastewater that converts organic compounds in the wastewater into a renewable biogas that can be used to create energy on site. We will also explore several breweries that are using this technology and the positive return on investment. If return on investment is the primary barrier to realizing all the benefits of waste-to-energy projects, then one must consider the financial benefit of tax credits associated with energy recovery, as such credits will have a significant impact on project payback. We will explore financial aspects of these projects, including cumulative incentives, grants, loans, tax credits, and private equity. Mezzanine and traditional financing, other loan programs, negotiated incentives, and tax credit programs will also be discussed.

Jeff VanVoorhis has been a member of MBAA for more than five years and has contributed to the organization as a presenter on various brewing technology topics. Jeff is a senior project manager at Symbiont, who, since 1995, has specialized in industrial wastewater treatment, waste minimization, and renewable energy. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Marquette University. Jeff has served as a project manager on numerous industrial wastewater projects that have total construction costs exceeding $100 million. During the past year, Jeff has been integrally involved in the design of wastewater energy production and recovery for two regional waste-to-energy designs in the state of Wisconsin, which produce 2 and 3.2 MW of green electric energy. He also has served as lead design engineer on comprehensive studies for energy use at digestion facilities for numerous industrial wastewater plants.