The future of beer: The manufacturer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona wants to hydrogen-power its Lancashire brewery

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A new hydrogen energy project the size of 1.5 football pitches could soon be powering beer production in Lancashire.

Energy company Protium and the Budweiser Brewing Group are set to unveil plans for the plant at its Samlesbury brewery, where some of the nation’s most recognised beers are produced, including Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona.

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The project aims to support ambition to decarbonise Samlesbury Brewery, saving up to 11,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually – the equivalent to taking 5,800 cars off the road, offsetting the emissions of 11,156 London to New York return flights, or planting 440,000 trees.

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The brewery in SamlesburyThe brewery in Samlesbury
The brewery in Samlesbury

Where would it be?

The new facility would be built next to the brewery, which lies just off the A59 between Preston and Blackburn.

Under the plans, Protium would fund, build, and operate the site for the brewery.

Named Samlesbury Net Zero, the green hydrogen production facility is planned to be operational by 2025 and when operational, the project would lead to cleaner air and less vehicle noise as the brewery aspires to start deploying hydrogen-ready vehicles.

AB InBev's Samlesbury brewery which makes Stella Artois and BudweiserAB InBev's Samlesbury brewery which makes Stella Artois and Budweiser
AB InBev's Samlesbury brewery which makes Stella Artois and Budweiser

How does a green hydrogen production facility work?

Green hydrogen is created through a process called electrolysis, where electricity from renewable sources is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. There are no carbon emissions released during the production of green hydrogen.

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Once produced, the hydrogen would be fed directly to hydrogen-ready boilers allowing the brewery to meet the thermal demand of its brewing processes, as well as it’s other heating requirements.

It would also supply a hydrogen refuelling station for use by hydrogen-ready heavy goods vehicles. These fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) only emit water vapour while filtering particulate out of the air as they move. The heat from the HPF will also be recovered and used in Budweiser’s bottling process.

AB Inbev Brewery at SamlesburyAB Inbev Brewery at Samlesbury
AB Inbev Brewery at Samlesbury

It would be Protium’s third HPF in the UK and second with Budweiser Brewing Group.

"Sustainability is core to our business”

Luiz Brandao, Head of Procurement and Sustainability at Budweiser Brewing Group, said: “Sustainability is core to our business at Budweiser Brewing Group as we work towards net zero ambitions. Innovative solutions like hydrogen have huge potential for reducing our carbon footprint in the UK and moving us towards our ambitious sustainability goals.”

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Chris Jackson, CEO of Protium, added: “Working with the local community will be at the heart of this project. We want to use the local supply chain where possible and engage with the education and business communities to provide upskilling opportunities for the region in green hydrogen energy production.”Chris added: “Removing carbon emissions from sectors like manufacturing is one of the biggest challenges we face in reaching net zero. Green hydrogen is the hugely exciting next step in global energy transition, happening right here in Lancashire, to drive down these emissions and futureproof our vital industries.

“This is a great opportunity for Samlesbury, South Ribble and Lancashire to take a lead in tackling the climate challenges facing us all.”

Public consultation

A planning application for the project will be submitted this spring following consultation with neighbours, the community, and other local stakeholders.

Protium is holding a public consultation event on Saturday, March 25 at Brockholes between 10 am and 4pm and has also created a dedicated website more information at