Sustainability Pathways

Converting Spent Grain Into Renewable Energy

Type of practice Recover
Name of practice Converting Spent Grain Into Renewable Energy
Name of main actor Scottish & Newcastle (now owned by Heineken)
Type of actor(s) Company
Location United Kingdom
Stage of implementation End-of-life
Year of implementation 2009
What was/is being done? Scottish & Newcastle (now owned by Heineken), the UK’s largest beer and cider company, installed biomass plants in two of their breweries to burn spent grain and locally-sourced woodchips. The steam and electricity generated by these combined heat and power (CHP) plants is used for the breweries’ processes.
Outcomes and impacts The Royal Brewery in Manchester, U.K., produces many internationally known beers, including Foster’s Lager and Kronenbourg 1664. According to a Greenpeace UK case study, burning the 42,000 tons of spent grain this brewery produces each year will supply 60 percent of the site’s steam and almost all of their electricity. The result is an 87 percent reduction in fossil fuel emissions. S&N UK reports that the plant could reduce Foster’s entire carbon footprint by as much as 15 percent. The Royal Brewery CHP plant produces 7.4 megawatts (MW) of thermal power and 3.1 MW of electricity, fueled by a mixture of spent grain left over from the brewing process and clean wood waste. Wood is required due to insufficient quantities of spent grain.