Managing Energy Costs in Wineries

Wineries are energy- and water-intensive businesses that can greatly benefit from conservation strategies. Uncorking the available savings can help boost your bottom line and help your winery attain a greener and more environmentally responsible image. These actions can be particularly cost-effective in regions and applications where utility incentives are available to help reduce up-front costs.

Although electricity is the main energy use in wineries, other energy sources are used as well, including fossil fuels such as natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, and diesel fuel—all of which are used for heating boilers or fuel-fired engines. Although the exact process  and equipment used can vary widely, roughly half the electricity consumed goes to refrigeration at various stages of the wine-making process, including fermentation cooling, cold stabilization, and cold storage. After refrigeration, key energy-using areas to target are equipment such as pumps, fans, and drives, as well as packaging and bottling processes. Natural gas is also widely used for water heating.

In 2013, the engineering consulting firm Berkeley Applied Science and Engineering (BASE) Inc. published Energy Efficiency Opportunities in Wineries for Retrofit and New Construction Projects (PDF), which recognizes the major end uses of electricity as refrigeration, process equipment, and lighting (Figure 1). The report also suggests worthwhile equipment efficiency upgrades.

Average energy use data

Figure 1: Total electricity end uses in US wineries
Large wineries use electricity for refrigeration and HVAC, with refrigeration taking the lion’s share. They use natural gas for hot water to provide process heating and for cleaning purposes. Consumption figures for gas fuels vary depending on the amount of hot water or steam required for process heating; we could not find a credible source that specified gas data.
Pie chart showing electricity end uses: refrigeration, 39%; process equipment, 24%; lighting, 14%; compressed air, 8%; HVAC, 7%; other, 5%; and wastewater, 3%.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) prepared a report in 2005 for the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research Program, Best Winery Guidebook: Benchmarking And Energy and Water Savings Tool for the Wine Industry (BEST). Though this report is not recent, its recommendations are based on comprehensive analysis and it remains a good source to consult when upgrading older equipment.

To begin harvesting energy savings, the first step is to perform an audit of your energy and water use. This generally entails taking a look at existing equipment and measuring actual consumption to verify that your systems are working as intended or to identify areas for improvement. Audits typically result in a list of straightforward and cost-effective measures that can conserve resources and improve system performance; they can also provide baseline data used in assessing the effectiveness of larger or longer-term improvements. Your utility can help you learn more about performing an audit, and it may even offer an audit service free of charge.

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