Renewables will cover 30 percent of brewing capacity
FAIRFIELD — Anheuser-Busch’s Fairfield brewery has started receiving its second towering windmill, which is set to bring clean-energy generation there to 30 percent of the facility’s needs.
The General Electric 1.85-87 wind turbine stands 397 feet high from ground to the top of one of the three rotors. The turbine was hoisted above a 262-foot-high, 14.5-foot-wide tower. When operational in October, it is designed to produce 1.6 megawatts, according to resident engineer Damon Waker.
The first windmill, a 1.5 megawatt unit installed in 2011, produced 3,500 megawatt-hours last year, he said.
The brewery now has 4.1 megawatts of alternative-energy generation from wind, solar and biogas, covering 30 percent of brewery needs and enough to brew, package and ship 33,000 cases of beer daily, or power 379 standard-sized homes.
There are about 6,500 solar panels on sun-tracking mounts on seven acres of the property, making 1 megawatt of electricity after power inversion. A bio-energy recovery system uses anaerobic digesters powered by bacteria to convert process wastewater from brewing and cleaning into methane — essentially, natural gas — that supplies 15 percent of brewery needs.
The brewery also has reduced water use by 47 percent since 2007, cutting water use from six cans worth of water for one can of beer to slightly less than three cans of water. That was accomplished by training workers to limit water use when cleaning floors and reclaiming certain water for uses such as the facility cooling tower.
The 700,000-square-foot Fairfield brewery makes 3.5 million barrels annually of Budweiser and Bud Light beers as well as a dozen other brands such as Shock Top and Rolling Rock.
The new wind system is being developed, is owned and will be operated by San Francisco-based Foundation Windpower, which also built and owns the first windmill. The beer company has a long-term power purchase agreement from Foundation Windpower and had no upfront cost for the system.
Part of the environmental study for the new windmill was research on the potential impact on wildlife such as bats and birds. In its city application, the beer company said it would seek to prevent animal injuries by limiting artificial lighting.
“I walk out to the existing turbine and do not see anything of any concern to me,” Mr. Waker said.
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