Saving Energy
Friday April 19 - Friday April 26 2013
Alaskan brewer creates ‘beer-powered-beer’

In order to cut its fuel costs, the Alaskan Brewing Co., based in Juneau, has turned to a very familiar source: beer.

The beer maker purchased and installed a unique boiler system, at a cost of $1.8-million (U.S.), which burns the company’s spent grain – the waste amassed from the brewing process – into steam which powers most of the brewery’s operations.

Breweries operating in the continental U.S. figured out what to with spent grain decades ago. Most send their used grain – a good source of protein made up of leftover malt and barley – to be used as animal feed by farms and ranches in the area. In Alaska, however, there aren’t enough farms for the surplus grain, and the question of what to do with the leftovers was problematic.

The Alaskan Brewing Co. used to ship its spent grain to buyers in the continental U.S.; however, the shipping costs were so high that it became an expensive process. So, four years ago, officials at the Alaskan Brewing Co. started looking at whether it could use spent grain as an in-house, renewable energy source and reduce costs at the same time. After receiving an almost $500,000 grant, the craft brewery contracted with a company to build the special boiler system.

Once the system is fully operational, the brewery is expecting big savings, estimating that the spent grain steam boiler will offset the company’s yearly energy costs by 70 per cent, which amounts to about $450,000 a year.

The company believes that the system they use could be applied at other, bigger breweries.

Going back to nature: the UK’s first biodynamic vineyard

Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard in the UK was the first vineyard to be certified organic in 1979, and it has recently released the UK’s first biodynamic wine. Called “First Release,” the wine’s label shows the moon, a nod to the combination of lunar and cosmic rhythms in the winery’s farming process.


What is biodynamics?
Biodynamics is a unique approach that doesn’t just focus on agricultural techniques. It was developed as a new way of thinking about farming, nature and nutrition, allowing for a refreshed connection with the earth, the elemental world and the cosmos.


Roy Cook, Sedlescombe’s owner, produces his wines as naturally as possible, in a holistic and sustainable environment.  He applies biodynamic principles to produce organic fruit wines, juices, ciders and liqueurs. The estate produces around 25,000 bottles of wine a year.

Cook tries to avoid synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and believes in minimal interference, from grape to glass.  He uses green manure cover crops to enrich the soil and improve wildlife habitats for birds, bees and butterflies. He also uses silica-quartz extracts designed to promote macrobiological activity in the soil, improve fertility and enhance light uptake and photosynthesis through the plant leaves.

Cook follows winemaking techniques from an 1885 German Gothic textbook by Dr Julius Nessler, in which Nessler supports a major departure from traditional winemaking techniques, recommending ripe, de-stemmed and crushed grapes be added to the blend during fermentation to make the most of body and bouquet.

Canada moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions

In February of this year, Canada’s Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, announced final regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by improving fuel efficiency from new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines.

The regulations will launch increasingly strict standards for 2014 to 2018 model-year heavy-duty vehicles such as full-size pick-up trucks, semi-trucks, buses and garbage trucks. The regulations will remain in full effect for all subsequent model-year vehicles, which will be required to follow the 2018 standard, and will result in GHG reductions of 19.1 megatonnes over the lifetime of the 2014-2018 model-year vehicles.

Canada has reduced its overall GHG emissions by 6.5% since 2005.