‘Heat Batteries’ Win $75 Million DoE Award for Two Diageo Plants

March 28, 2024
The novel technology captures and stores renewable energy, delivering continuous industrial heat and power; part of $6 billion in Department of Energy awards this week.

Diageo North America has won up to $75 million in funds from the Dept. of Energy (DOE) to support the electrification of two U.S. production sites with “heat batteries,” with the goal of making both facilities carbon neutral by 2026 and 2028.

Diageo production facilities in Shelbyville, Ky., and Plainfield, Ill., will get the novel technology from Rondo Energy, providing low-cost, zero-carbon heat and power and eliminating reliance on natural gas for boilers used in heating processes.

The heat battery technology captures and stores renewable energy, delivering continuous industrial heat and power that address intermittency concerns.

Traditional production processes in the beverage industry - such as distilling, bottling, cleaning, pasteurization and HVAC systems - require large thermal loads, which are typically dependent on natural gas. By replacing natural gas, these processes help eliminate nearly 17,000 metric tons of direct greenhouse gas emissions annually across the two facilities -- which is the equivalent of taking more than 4,046 gasoline-powered cars off the road for a year, Diageo said.

“Today’s [March 25] announcement from the Department of Energy marks a milestone for our North American operations and gives us the opportunity to incorporate innovative technologies into our production footprint to make our business more efficient, resilient and sustainable,” said Marsha McIntosh-Hamilton, Diageo’s president of North America Supply. “Through our partnership with Rondo Energy we’ll build a model that can be replicated across our supply operations in the U.S.”

And not just Diageo operations. This project will demonstrate an industrial heat and power model that could be replicated in many other sectors, as well as more broadly within food and beverage, Diageo’s news release said. The electric thermal energy storage (ETES) that will be deployed for this project is a new, more cost-effective path to industrial decarbonization that has potential to deliver firm, reliable clean energy for decades.

This is one of a handful of Dept. of Energy awards this week. The Biden administration announced $6 billion in funding March 25 for projects that will slash emissions from the industrial sector. Among them, Kraft Heinz was awarded $170 million to cut emissions and overall energy use from 10 U.S. plants, and Unilever’s ice cream business won $21 million to replace natural gas boilers with electric boilers and industrial heat pumps using waste heat recovery.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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