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DB Breweries to switch Timaru plant from coal next year

Friday 12th July 2019

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DB Breweries is planning to switch its brewery at Timaru onto wood chip by the end of next year as part a plan to halve the group’s emissions by 2030.

The firm, owned by Heineken, operates six breweries around the country. But DB Draught's plant at Timaru is the biggest user of coal-fired steam and thus the single-biggest contributor to the group’s emissions.

Amber McEwen, the firm’s corporate affairs director, says Timaru is the logical focus given it accounts for most of the steam emissions, which in turn accounted for almost a third of the group’s carbon footprint last year. In 2018, natural gas use across the group was the biggest contributor at 34 percent, with electricity at 18 percent, transport fuel at 7 percent, refrigerant losses at 5 percent and LPG at 4 percent.

DB is looking to switch entirely from coal-fired steam, which it says would require almost 3,000 tonnes of wood chip a year. It is still considering its options for that supply, but expects it will be a forestry residue by-product.

“Our decision-making process will include a range of environmental and social factors, such as carbon emission savings, the proximity of the biomass source to the brewery, air quality, and our business code of conduct.”

DB’s Timaru operation is one of three firms using the Washdyke industrial heat plant operated by Pioneer Energy.

The facility has 26 megawatts of capacity across two sites and has had the capability to burn wood and coal for several years.

In May, Pioneer chief executive Fraser Jonker said the firm, which also operates hydro dams, wind farms and landfill gas plants, had probably been six to seven years ahead of the market when it added dual-fuel capability at its heat plants in Timaru and Dunedin.

Customers are now demanding greater sustainability in the products and services they are buying, he said. Firms and institutions, including hospitals and universities, are switching to wood and fuel supplies which are sufficient for others to at least start transitioning plants from coal, he told the Minerals Forum in Dunedin.

DB says emissions from its own operations and its purchased energy – so-called scope 1 and 2 emissions – were equivalent to 9,846 tonnes of CO2 in 2018. It is aiming to get that down to 9,764 tonnes in 2020.

Its emissions in production in 2018 were 4.88 kg of CO2 per hectolitre – 100 litres - of beer or cider. That was 47 percent less than in 2008 and the firm is targeting 4.5 kg in 2020. Energy intensity was 91.15 megajoules per hectolitre, and DB is aiming to get that down to 83.4 MJ next year.

McEwen said the group’s goal to halve emissions by 2030 is ambitious and aggressive, but consistent with the effort required if global warming is going to be contained to 1.5 degrees celsius.

After Timaru, there will be a big focus on the firm’s Waitemata brewery in Auckland, particularly greater use of renewable energy there. But she said initiatives will be pursued across the group.

Options already identified include switching the firm’s fleet to electric vehicles, replacing LPG-powered forklifts with electric units and reducing refrigerant losses across the business to zero.

The firm also plans to start working with its packaging and distribution partners in coming years to bring down their emissions, McEwen said.


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