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Forget Solar and Wind Power...Power Up Your Green Energy with Beer

Posted Feb 05 2013 12:00am

The Alaskan Brewing Co. Powers Up with Beer

The Alaskan Brewing Co. is going green, but instead of choosing to go with solar or wind energy, it has turned to a source close to their hearts - beer.

The Juneau-based beer maker has purchased and installed a unique boiler system to cut its fuel costs. A $1.8 million furnace burns the company's spent grain -- the waste accumulated from the brewing process -- into steam which powers the majority of the brewery's operations.

Most breweries in the nation send their used grain, a good source of protein, to nearby farms and ranches to be used as animal feed.  But in the southeastern part of Alaska, where the Alaskan Brewing Co. is, there are only 37 farms and just 680 in the entire state.  The problem of what to do with the excess spent grain -- made up of the residual malt and barley -- became more problematic after the brewery expanded in 1995.

Innovation Was Needed to Keep the Doors Open

"We had to be a little more innovative just so that we could do what we love to do, but do it where we're located," Alaskan Brewing co-founder Geoff Larson said.

Selling its spent grain, the Alaskan Brewery got only $60 for every ton it sent to farms in the Lower 48, but it costs them $30 to ship each ton.  They had to come up with a better way to deal with the spent grain and four years ago, officials at the Alaskan Brewing Co. started looking into whether it could use spent grain as an in-house, renewable energy source and reduce costs at the same time.

They contracted with a North Dakota company to build the special boiler system after the project was awarded nearly $500,000 in a grant from the federal Rural Energy for America Program.

Beer Powered Beer to Reduce Costs

The brewery is expecting big savings once the system is fully operational.

The spent grain steam boiler will offset the company's yearly energy costs by 70 percent, which amounts to about $450,000 a year.



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Photo Source: AP
Source:  Fox News
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