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Cogeneration Keeps the Beer Cold at New York City Distribution Warehouse

April 16, 2013
An on-site combned-heat-and-power plant is meeting several needs for a large beer distributor, including optimal temperature control and grid independence.

Phoenix Beverages is one of New York City’s largest beer distributors. The company unloads approximately 20,000 containers, including up to 12 million cases of beer, each year from freighters at two piers in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

In 2009, the company started planning the move and consolidation of its operations in Long Island City, Queens, and Elizabeth, N.J., to Brooklyn. The long-empty facility at Red Hook Pier previously served as a coffee-bean warehouse, a role in which temperature management was not a focus. With refrigerated beverages, however, temperature control and power supply and demand are mission-critical issues.

Although there were electric lines running to the pier, they were not capable of supplying anything approaching the power load required by Phoenix Beverages’ fully temperature-controlled warehouse. Lighting, heating and cooling, and product-mobility functions essential to the facility’s operation represent extremely demanding power requirements. To upgrade the 263,000-sq-ft facility to utilize the traditional power grid would have required a major infrastructure investment by the company and Con Edison. Instead, Phoenix Beverages decided to explore on-site power generation.

For many reasons, including cost savings, reliability, and green initiatives, the company decided to implement a 600-kw combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant designed by Rochester, N.Y.-based Energy Concepts. The plant features six natural-gas-fueled InVerde CHP systems from Tecogen.

One key benefit of installing a CHP system was to make the warehouse grid-independent. If the local electricity grid fails, the company will be unaffected.

Another benefit is the inherent redundancy and, therefore, reliability of the power plant. The company has six InVerde units, but needs only five to meet its peak loads. Should there ever be a problem with a unit or even two units, the other units can take over.

The on-site CHP plant is meeting several needs for Phoenix Beverages:

• Within the massive building, the refrigeration equipment powered by the CHP system allows various beverages to be stored at optimal temperatures in individual temperature-controlled rooms.

• A large forklift-recharging station keeps the many battery-powered forklifts operating.

• Absorbers take the hot water generated by the InVerde CHP systems and turn it into heat for the warehouse and front offices. Residual heat that cannot be used by the facility is disappated via condensation by external cooling towers.

Given its lower emissions and greater energy efficiencies, the CHP plant not only provides a compelling alternative to power-grid dependence, it represents a practical bridge to a sustainable energy future.

“With six Tecogen InVerde units available, our system is designed to sustain our ‘microgrid’ with maximum reliability and efficiency,”  Patrick Simeone, Phoenix Beverages’ director of facilities management, said. “With the 90-plus-percent-efficient power plant driving our grid-independent CHP strategy, we expect to save more than half a million dollars and reduce carbon emissions by more than 3,100 tons annually.”

Information courtesy of Tecogen.