Why More American Breweries are Switching to Solar Energy

Why More American Breweries are Switching to Solar Energy
Betsy Weber/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Beer is not only the most popular alcoholic drink in the world, but also the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. In fact, nearly 75 percent of all legal drinking age adults in the United States live within ten miles of a brewery. Naturally, as renewable energy finds wider commercial, industrial and residential use, the growing trend is also being adopted by American brewers.

In 2015, MillerCoors announced the completion of the largest solar panel installation among American breweries. Working with Solar City, the country’s largest solar service provider, MillerCoors installed more than 10,000 solar panels at its ten-acre facility in Irwindale, California, capable of producing 3.2 megawatt of electricity.

Some of Colorado’s largest beer makers have also been among the early adopters of this technology. For instance, New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado uses a combination of 1,235 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels producing 300 kW of electricity, and a solar thermal system that generates hot water for the plant’s kitchens and restrooms. The environmentally conscious company also uses an onsite biogas generator and says that it was the first brewery in the country to purchase 100% of its electricity from wind power as early as 1999.

Last year, the world’s largest brewery, Anheuser-Busch, announced its commitment to secure 100 percent of its purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The company also announced plans to install solar panels at some of its breweries across the United States, including Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton, Colorado.

Although it may sound surprising at first, using solar energy to brew beer actually makes good business sense. Brewing requires a lot of energy, as the boil kettles and hot liquor tanks need to be heated up constantly. Switching to solar allows brewers to have a reliable and low-cost source of energy for their business that also provides additional environmental benefits.

Here’s a list of some other American breweries that have made serious commitments to using sunshine as the power source for making beer.

American Breweries That Use Solar Energy

Lagunitas Brewing Company (Sonoma County, California)
Total solar power installed: 2.1 MW

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, California)
Total solar power installed: 1.5 MW

Kona Brewing Company (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)
Total solar power installed: 645 kW

Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, California)
Total solar power installed: 331 kW

Highland Brewing Company (Asheville, North Carolina)
Total solar power installed: 324 kW

SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia)
Total solar power installed: 157 kW

Flying Fish Brewing Company (Somerdale, New Jersey)
Total solar power installed: 129 kW

Anderson Valley Brewing Company (Boonville, California)
Total solar power installed: 125 kW

Bear Republic Brewing Company (Cloverdale, California)
Total solar power installed: 30.2 kW (plus additional 136.6 kW is in the works)

Odell Brewing Compamy (Fort Collins, Colorado)
Total solar power installed: 76.8 kW

So, the next time you enjoy a cold one from one of these brewmasters, you can also feel good about supporting the environment and the renewable energy industry.

If you think this is cool, check out our blog about solar-powered inventions that could change the world.

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