Renewable energy

Project « K50 »: to invest in the reduction of the carbon footprint

Under the code name « K50 », the Chimay Beer Company put in place a voluntary internal policy going well beyond the Industry Agreements and legal requirements. The purpose? To arrive in 2010 at a Greenhouse Gas Index (GGI) reduced by 50% in comparison to the reference year 2001, and to reduce significantly the Energy Efficiency Index (EEI). At the same time, the Chimay Cheese Company is bound as well to the same strict objectives (with 2004 as reference year).

At the end of 2008, the brewing business had already surpassed the demands foreseen by the Industry Agreements on the horizon for 2012, with an 18.6% reduction in the GGI, and 16.6% in the EEI. As for the cheese plant, it had by then also surpassed the requirements foreseen for it with a reduction in the GGI of 28.9% and 26.8% in the EEI.

From the reduction in consumption to the production of renewable energy: the steps of an global and logical environmental approach

The first step in the process consists of reducing energy consumption wherever possible: replacement of valves, insulating steam lines, stopping leaks, installation of "guillotine" valves to stop the escape of steam, installation of variometers permitting motors to work at different speeds according to need, using the slowest possible start-up curves when possible. Numerous investments have been approved since 2003 to ensure a rational energy usage within the industrial process.

In the same vein of ideas, we have put in place “eco-driving” for both lorries and automobiles since 2007. The indispensable production of compressed air was also modernized; compressors of different sizes were installed for modular use according to need (2008).

Also in 2008 the brewery installed a rinser for new bottles. In fact, up until then, new bottles (accounting for about 45% of the production) went through the same type of washer as recycled bottles. The purchase of the rinser allowed a reduction in the consumption of water, energy (new bottles are rinsed in cold water), and detergents, and to reduce the treatment of wastewater.

Some modifications at the level of the boilers permitted recuperation of condensates and fumes, and to thus pre-heat the water in the production circuit.

On the lighting level, other than the use of fluorescent lights, low-energy bulbs, and motion detectors, the brewery opted for the installation of directional cupolas in the storerooms for now, and soon in other production facilities in order to benefit from increased natural lighting.

In order to reduce the work in the purification plant, some investments were devoted to the separation of wastewater and rainwater, allowing deviation of the rainwater - running off the roofs and courtyards of the Abbey - directly into the river without going through the plant.

2009: almost a million euros invested to reduce the carbon footprint

2009 constituted an essential step: 985,000 euros were invested in order to attain the "K50" objective, representing an annual saving of 519,000 litres of fuel oil and 71,400 kilowatts of electricity.

An initial investment, the installation of a heat exchange at the exit from the brewing room allowed the recovery of surplus heat otherwise lost, and to use it for heating the Abbey, saving 75,000 litres of fuel oil in one gesture.

Another size modification, at the beginning of 2010 the beers of Chimay changed the system for boiling the wort: the internal superheater was replaced by a new superheater using the latest technology for energy savings. This system will permit recuperation of the energy in the wort vapours leaving the boiler chamber, an annual savings of 119,000 of fuel oil and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 223 tons, or a GGI decrease of 7.4%.

Consumption, then production of renewable energy

Since June 2008 the Chimay Group uses "green" electricity , through an Alp Energie contract with Electrabel. This contract also has as an object a program of information and education on responsible consumption for the personnel. The Group is likewise involved with the development of a wind farm established in 2009 in the Baileux industrial site allowing a supply of green electricity through the network.

2009 saw the achievement of the installation of a large surface of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of the Abbey (200 m², in addition to the 105 m² installed in 2008). The entirety of these panels permits a savings of 33,640 kilowatts of electricity every year.

The last major investment of the year with a view to producing renewable energy : the purchase of a pellet heater, which was installed at the end of 2009. This replaces a diesel backup heater with a size better adapted to the needs. Other than a better heating efficiency, this new pellet heater allows an annual reduction of 1,100 tons of CO2 emissions, lowers the consumption of diesel fuel by 403,000 litres per year, and uses primarily local materials. Outside production periods, it supplies the Abbey, which from now on will be heated entirely by renewable energy. This investment will permit the reaching of the objective that was set for the brewery of a reduction in the GGI of 25%... which will thus clear the 50% barrier - the famous "K50" - for the year 2010!