From the rolling hills of Northern California through the British Isles to the peaks of Namibia, a glimmer in the distance might indicate something special is on the horizon. A closer look brings industrial roofs covered in solar panels, buzzing with the production of energy with commercial grade solar panels, into view. As your car inches toward the solar covered destination, you can see that the panels are powering some of the world’s most beloved craft beer breweries. And these are not just any craft breweries, we are seeing some of the largest names in craft beer transitioning to renewable, green energy to power their plants. Some such names include Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company and the Kona Brewing Company.
Many craft breweries have turned to smart and efficient energy practices and made ecological commitments in their business. Sierra Nevada was a pioneer of solar and brewing when they installed their first panels in 2007. Rock Art, a craft brewery located in Vermont, was the first to offset all their electrical costs with solar panels. With advancements in technology, small to large-sized breweries can run completely off solar power with planning and accurate growth projections of their establishments. Most craft beer drinkers will tell you that no two brews are alike – and it appears that one of the major differentiators of beer will be whether the brew is ecologically friendly and made from sun power, or not.
From the perspective of the craft brewery, going solar is a fiscally responsible decision. Solar power means serious savings on their electricity bills, which compromise a notable percentage of their brewing expenses. The initial costs of installation can be intimidating, especially for larger breweries who have much larger electrical usages. However, the up-front costs are immediately mediated by savings on utility bills. CEO Garrett Marrero of the Maui Brewing company explained that the 4,000 panels he had installed in 2014 gave him peace of mind, knowing that in a power outage his production would not be impacted and in the case of a natural disaster, his brewery could be resource for the community. It is clear that even steep set-up costs are diminished with the cash savings and production benefits of a solar system.
One brew master, Jason Oliver of the Devil’s Backbone stated that beer is “a very healthy product. It’s completely natural. It’s free of artificial ingredients, and if it’s local beer that is unfiltered and unpasteurized, there are lots of live cultures that are good for you.” But, on the flip side, he emphasized “It can be really bad for the environment if you brew irresponsibly.” This is a big idea, perhaps overlooked by the average consumer, as it takes an average of five glasses of boiling water to make one glass of cold beer. The energy expenditure is getting water boiled and then the final product refrigerated, is immense. One such solution to using oil or coal-based energy is that solar power does not leave any sort of carbon emission. It is clean, renewable energy, that allows for brew masters to fluidly do what they do best – brew craft beer!
From a craft beer enthusiasts’ perspective, a major differentiator in the community of craft beers is the dedication of breweries to support their communities and the environment. Although the eco-centric industry often touts being ‘green’ one major differentiator is being ranked by the pro-solar organization Solar United Neighbors (SUN), who tracks the number of solar powered U.S. breweries and currently has 117 solar-powered U.S. breweries. Being named on their list gives breweries bragging rights as it demonstrates they really do have a commitment to the community and the environment. Enthusiasts’ have started to use the hash tag #SolarPoweredBeer in their marketing efforts to help their product and breweries stand out from the competition.
Once breweries go solar, their energy costs and environmental impact decrease and their marketability increases. Thanks to the development of technology and tax incentives available to business owners, fully solar powered breweries are a reality with immediate return on investment. Going solar requires space and a bit of upfront capital, but consumer trends show that people gravitate toward businesses that make sustainable energy affordable.
If you are a craft beer enthusiast or know someone who is, ensure you are spreading the hashtag #SolarPoweredBeer and make eco-friendly choices when making your craft beer purchases.
If you are ready to learn more about how solar can help your business run more efficiently or become more marketable, ensure you reach out to one of our Energy Advisers today.
Emily Cross, Ph.D. is Manager of Processes and Procedures at Del Sol Energy, located in Historic Downtown Brentwood. Emily is a life-long Brentwood resident and proud to raise her three, active children in the same community she was raised in surrounded by four generations of family. Emily’s professional background spans academic, government and corporate boundaries, but her passion for business is embedded in small businesses that feed into the local community, economy and promote a cleaner, healthier environment.
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