Melbourne brewer leads the way in sustainable brewing

Three men smiling with brewing equipment in 3 Ravens brew hall (brewer)
Image: (Regenerate Engineering and 3 Ravens)

As other businesses feel the pressure of skyrocketing energy costs, Melbourne’s oldest independent brewer, 3 Ravens, is bucking the trend and setting the standard for efficient, electrified processes.

An award-winning energy upgrade to its Thornbury brewing facility should enable 3 Ravens to ramp up its production by up to four times current levels without increasing its energy consumption.

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In addition to upgrading the building fabric and installing 74kW of solar panels and a ‘cool roof’, the brewery has installed a highly efficient CO2 chiller heat pump which can capture and use waste heat and cooling from the brewing process to supply other heating and cooling needs in the brewing process and wider facility. The new system is also driven and managed by Fermecraft Industry 4.0 technology which automates processes to maximise energy efficiency.

The planning to expand production utilising best practice technologies and a holistic integration of processes was aided by pre-feasibility and feasibility studies managed by the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) and funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) through its Advancing Renewables Program.

“Brewing beer is extremely energy intensive, using a lot of energy for cooling and heating processes. Previously at 3 Ravens (and at most other breweries) this heating and cooling was done by separate machines with unused heating and cooling from the processes being wasted, or lowering the comfort in the brewing space,” said Jon Fettes, director at Regenerate Engineering, the energy consultancy engaged by 3 Ravens.

“The fantastic thing about this type of chiller heat pump used in this project is that they can simultaneously create heating and cooling at useful temperatures for various parts of the brewing process from a single refrigerant cycle. In this instance, it is also delivering a further waste heat stream to other rooms to help manage internal temperatures and comfort.”

“This project is really exciting because it demonstrates the impact heat pump technologies can have right here, right now on emissions and energy costs in manufacturing, particularly in the food and beverage sector,” A2EP CEO Jarrod Leak said.

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“We need to accelerate the transition to heat pump technologies across the economy. As this project shows, not only will it help Australia meet its emission reduction targets, it will also support the viability and growth of local businesses that employ so many Australians.”

With more than 600 independent brewers in Australia, there is great potential for replication of this project to deliver emission and energy cost savings for small businesses across the country.

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