Adnams is a family business, and has been brewing beer in Southwold since 1872. Wanting to preserve that longevity means operating as sustainably as we possibly can, and our projects include our eco-distribution centre (home now to some 240,000 honey bees) and our energy efficient brewhouse.


Our estate and fleet are extremely diverse, from small offices to vast warehouse, light commercial vehicles to long distance trunkers. We know that there’s usually a sustainable system or technology we can apply, but it’s sometimes tricky to work out what to apply where.


That’s where the Network comes in. We heard about it through an existing member, and got in touch with the Network team from there. Before long I was chatting to Chloe, the Network manager, about the possibility of marine source heat pumps, since the brewery is close to the sea.


A site visit was arranged for us to go and see a National Trust marine source heat pump in Wales. Talking to knowledgeable people about the technology, the diversity of application and the possibility of modification was really helpful. Hearing about the success of these projects gave us confidence that it could work for us too.


My colleague and I were then talking on the drive home and realised- we’re missing a trick here! We’ve got a lot of heat being generated by processes in the brewery that is lost, despite reusing as much as we possibly can. So, we wondered if we could use marine source heat pump technology to make use of this heat. Would it be possible to put such a system between the brewery to provide heating for our nearby Swan Hotel, which is currently heated by oil and gas boilers?


We also realised that a heat storage technology we had found out about at a Fit for the Future Network brokering event could be the missing link, since the brewery generates a lot of heat earlier on in the day, whereas hotel guests want heat for their bath at teatime, so we would need to be able to store it.


So that was the benefit of the Wales visit, which wasn’t really what we were expecting!


It’s only familiarity that gets you to the stage of being able to think about things like this. The visit sparked off ideas, which is the benefit of these things. If I knew I wanted a water-based heat pump, I wouldn’t need to be part of the Network. The point is I didn’t know quite what I needed or how these things might possibly work. It’s being able to talk around the subject that gets us there. From this we were able to identify a source of waste heat from our processes and a demand for heat within our processes. This project has just begun installation and will save us in region of £20,000 pa once fully installed.


We’re at the design stage at the moment, and our brewing engineers are working on a solution. We’ll be talking to them and others about what the next stage is. Knowing there’s a contact on the other end of the phone and you’ve got support from impartial peers is so valuable.


Installing these technologies will mean significant savings on energy bills as well as feeding into our wider sustainability commitments.


Richard Carter, Head of Finance &Sustainability, Adnams