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Molson Coors’ Vancouver brewery partners with BC Hydro for great energy savings

From CIPEC’s “Heads Up” Newsletter:

“As suggestions are collected by our energy team we add them to a long list of energy efficiency projects,” says Scott Gordon, Energy Manager at Molson Coors’ Vancouver brewery, a CIPEC Leader in the Food and Beverage Sector. “We are always looking for projects and initiatives to improve energy efficiency and reduce our water consumption,” he adds. In 2012, the company set new targets to achieve a further 25 percent reduction in energy intensity, 15 percent in GHG intensity and 20 percent in water per unit of production by the year 2020.

The Vancouver brewery operates a can, bottle and keg line on either a two or three shift schedule generally five days a week. Like other Molson Coors facilities, the Vancouver plant has an active energy team with representation from all departments. “We meet weekly to review our metrics, develop an action plan and associated tasks,” says Gordon.

Town hall meetings, held regularly for the plant’s 175 employees, are another example of the two-way communication flow between employees and the energy team about energy and water conservation issues and ideas. Gordon notes that they “are currently developing a targeted energy and water reduction communication strategy.” It is no surprise that the Vancouver plant was awarded a CIPEC Leadership award in the category of Employee Awareness and Training.

The Vancouver brewery has a long-term partnership with BC Hydro’s Power Smart Program (PSP) and has conducted several Energy Efficiency Feasibility Studies between 2007 and 2009. One of those, a 2007 refrigeration study, pointed to the energy gains in retrofitting the existing ammonia-based refrigeration system that relied on three, inefficient brine shell and tube heat exchangers with a glycol system with plate and frame heat exchangers. Moreover the compressors and condensers for the system were upgraded to new variable frequency drive compressors that run at 30 psi suction pressure instead of 18 psi. “The savings were significant at 3 megajoules (MJ) per hectolitre (hL), representing a 10 percent overall plant reduction in electricity consumption,” notes Gordon.

In 2008, quite a few changes were made to the compressed air system, many funded through BC Hydro’s PSP. The plant’s dessicant regenerative dryer was replaced with a more efficient heat of compression dryer. The latter uses 30 percent less compressed air; “this gave us immediate savings and we were able to shut down one of our 250-hp compressors.” Gordon adds that oversized compressors were replaced with ones tailored to the job.

Also in 2008, after a lighting study funded by BC Hydro PSP, the plant changed its large exterior messaging board from incandescent lighting to LED fixtures. A lighting retrofit was also completed in the plant’s can line and the packaging area where old HID fixtures were replaced with induction lighting.

In terms of water conservation, Gordon notes that “water is a major focus of the company right now; we want to continue to be good water stewards.” For example, the facility replaced water-cooled with air-cooled compressors, immediately saving 100 000 hectolitres (hL) annually. “We actively reclaim our process water and reuse water where we can.”

Asked what is next, Gordon notes that the energy team is currently planning to retrofit the beer cooler system from shell and tube heat exchangers to plate and frame heat exchangers, which could allow for an increase in suction pressure from 30 psi to 35 psi, thus reducing electricity use.

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