Since the late 1990s, the craft brewing, distilling, and brewpub industry has boomed across the U.S. The Brewers Association estimates that more than 400 craft breweries opened nationwide last year, and according to a white paper by Michael Kinstlick, co-founder of Hudson Valley-based Coppersea Distillers, LLC, New York has the third most active craft distillers in the nation. The Mid-Hudson’s Regional Economic Development Council identified the food and beverage industry as one of the sectors that drive the local economy and should be fostered.
While these artisans create jobs and opportunity to sample unique and locally-sourced beer and spirits, they are also energy-intense operations with high utility costs. The leading energy uses in distilleries and breweries are refrigeration, making hot water for production, and packing processes. In brewpubs, food preparation and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) lead the list.
Like nearly all other businesses in New York State, distilleries, breweries, and brewpubs can benefit from many best practices for energy efficiency and conservation that can be easily incorporated into daily operations. Many can also benefit from adopting efficient technologies to produce energy. These strategies can reduce operating expenses and increase income while reducing a company’s environmental footprint.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) commercial and industrial energy efficiency and renewable energy programs can help. Businesses can utilize the Flex Tech and Industrial and Process Efficiency (IPE) programs to identify beneficial and cost-effective strategies. Businesses with annual electric demand lower than 100kW and with less than 10 employees can take advantage of the free Small Commercial Energy Assessment program.
Established businesses can take advantage of NYSERDA’s Existing Facilities Program to help pay for upgrades to equipment, including more efficiency motors, variable frequency drives (VFDs), HVAC equipment, refrigerators, and lighting. The New Construction Program can help newcomers – or those planning to move or expand operations – create energy-sipping facilities.
These production facilities are also often great candidates for renewable energy installations. A solar thermal system can help make the large quantity of hot water used in brewing and distilling process, and can sit alongside a solar PV system or wind turbine to generate electricity. Businesses with access to natural gas service can take advantage of support for installation of an efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system that produces electricity and steam.
Producers and sellers of alcohol encourage their customers to drink their products responsibly. With NYSERDA’s help, New York State’s burgeoning beer and spirits producers can learn to do the same with energy.