The first beer made only with renewable energy will arrive in 2025

There is not a single Spanish beer made solely with renewable energy. The first will arrive next year, and will be from Heineken. The latest milestone on the company's path to achieving 100% renewable national production came last week, with the inauguration in Valencia of the world's largest Fresnel category solar thermal plant for industrial use. Under a blazing sun, those responsible for Heineken Spain presented the new installation, which uses cutting-edge technology developed by the Valencian company CSIN (Solatom Indertec Company). A great advance in the brewer's commitment to become net zero throughout the value chain by 2040 globally.

Today, beer is not only measured in pints or characterized by the thickness of its foam. It also keeps track of how many homes could have electricity with the renewable electricity they produce for self-consumption or how many trees the reduction of polluting emissions that reduce their processes is equivalent to. With this plant, built in just eight months, the brewery plans to avoid the emission of almost 1,300 tons of CO2e per year. When it is at full capacity at the end of 2024, it will be able to operate with 42% renewable energy, coming from both electricity and thermal energy.

Heineken is the brand that takes the lead. “In 2020 we became the first brewery to make its products with 100% renewable electricity and our plant in Huelva was the first zero-emissions factory in Spain,” recalls Carmen Ponce, Director of Corporate Affairs at Heinken Spain and president of its Cruzcampo Foundation. , in conversation with LA RAZÓN. Adding the four factories that the brand has throughout the country (also in Seville, Jaén and Madrid), the multinational produces almost 1.5 million canes a day, “all with the power of the sun.” But, according to Ponce, “we will not rest until we make all the energy we use in production effective, with projects such as the two solar thermal plants that we have inaugurated in the last six months, first in our factory in Seville and now in Valencia.”

With 83% of components of local origin, the development of this solar thermal plant has created more than 160 jobs in the process and involved 63 Spanish companies. These include Heineken's partner in this project, CSIN; or the Valencian Mipesa, responsible for the machining of the Fresnel collector structure.

The project, considered a global benchmark and an example of public-private collaboration in the industrial transition towards a low-carbon economy, represents a total investment of 3 million euros and has been financed 48% with FEDER funds through the IDAE. It is formalized through a PPA2 (a long-term power purchase agreement) between Heineken Spain and CSIN, which guarantees the brewery a supply of renewable solar thermal energy for the next 15 years.

Heineken: cardboard ringsHEINEKEN

Technology made in Valencia

Miguel Frasquet went from working in a garage to being the engineer behind the Heineken plant: a solar field with 6,000 m2 of mirrors and 182 Fresnel modules. This achieves a peak power of 4MW thermal power, covering 10% of the steam demand of this Valencian factory. In addition, its 1.5MWh storage allows it to accumulate part of the energy produced during the weekends. The one who is also technical director of CSIN and CEO of Solatom, explains that “there is nothing like it in the world than what we have here. And that is because in Spain we have the technology, we have the talent and the solar resource to lead industrial decarbonization in Europe. The Quart de Poblet solar thermal plant is an example that, in addition, we have companies like Heineken, which are willing to take the first step and lead the way.

Reducing emissions is one of the great challenges of Heineken Spain in terms of environmental sustainability. The aforementioned objective that Spanish production will only be renewable in 2025 concerns its beers from brands such as Heineken, Cruzcampo, Amstel or El Águila. A challenge whose next objective is that, by the end of this year, the brewery's energy mix reaches 67% renewables.

If achieved, the expected results correspond to the renewable activity of its two solar thermal plants (including the new one in Valencia), but also of the El Andévalo photovoltaic plant (Huelva), the biomass of Jaén and the biogas produced in its four factories. The projects, in addition to generating employment in the regions where they are developed, contribute to the global ambition for 2040. An objective that has recently been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), making Heineken the first brewer in the world to surpass this milestone.