The initiative will also develop solutions to improve energy efficiency and cut water consumption. The agreement formed part of $3 billion in new customer agreements that GE Energy announced yesterday, including waste-heat recovery, wind power and water treatment projects.
AB InBev and GE engineering resources will establish an “Innovation Team” to understand AB InBev’s processes and challenges. The partners will aim to define clear solutions that can be implemented and piloted in designated AB InBev locations, and later expanded to existing and planned facilities across China.
The partnership will initially focus on designing and implementing several key solutions, including:
- Energy management solutions that use advanced software systems to provide insight into the level of energy and water used, enabling visibility into potential energy and water losses, while allowing for a better understanding of where improvements can be made.
- Combined heat and power solutions that use gas engines, creating electricity via either biogas or natural gas. These engines can achieve efficiency levels of 70 to 90 percent, GE says, vastly lowering consumption.
- “Waste-to-value solutions” that will enable efficient use of water and energy normally left over from the manufacturing process.
AB InBev announced its three-year environmental performance targets in April 2010. The company aims to reduce its water-to-beer ratio to 3.5, reduce energy usage and CO2 output, and lower reliance on traditional energy sources via the use of biogas and natural gas. Last year, AB InBev China reduced water consumption by 20.7 percent, carbon emissions by 20 percent and energy consumption by 13.19 percent.
An ongoing project at AB InBev project’s Chinese flagship factory is using recycled water from one of its plants to support local public housing, in an initiative that the company is considering for a wider roll-out. Since March, the plant in Hanyang, a district of Wuhan, has been treating 4,000 tons of production water a day and supplying 1,000 to the community. The water is supplying at least 2,400 families living in Huiminyuan, Hanyang’s biggest government-subsidized housing development, where it is used for washrooms, landscaping and fire fighting.
In 2010, GE announced a plan to invest more than $2 billion in R&D, technology and financial service partnerships in China by 2012.