Bright Brewery launches rooftop solar

BrightBrewery_Solar009A craft brewery in Victoria’s north east has marked its first step towards carbon neutrality, launching its solar energy generation by serving freshly brewed beer poured by the power of the sun.

The brewery also called on the Australian craft brewing industry to put environmental sustainability on the national agenda and to work together on futureproofing such an energy intensive industry.

Living up to its name, Bright Brewery proudly demonstrated its desire to embrace renewable energy through the plentiful bright sunshine available in Bright.

“We put a brewery here in Bright because we love the rich natural environment that surrounds the town and the awesome outdoor lifestyle that it provides,” explained Bright Brewery founder and owner Scott Brandon.

”The environment is one of the biggest drivers of Bright’s economy, drawing many visitors here across the seasons for the spectacular scenery and alpine adventures, so it is imperative for us to do our part in sustaining it.”

The new 50kw Enphase solar system, covering Bright Brewery’s 600 square metres of roof in 192 solar panels, was designed and installed by Living Energy Solutions to maximise the efficiency of a complex and often shaded roof space by using micro-invertors and the latest smart technology. With the system set to save around $18,000 a year, providing a payback period of less than 5 years, the thriving business regards the solar installation as not only a smart business move, but essential to the operating an energy intensive craft brewing business.

“We’re a growing business with a growing market, so we wanted to make sure that the solar system is adaptable should we make changes to the building or roof design,” said Mr Brandon.

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L-R: Scott Brandon, Jess Christensen and Katherine McLean

Jess Christiansen from Living Energy Solutions explained the unique nature of Bright Brewery’s solar.

“When designing a solution for Bright Brewery we were challenged by a complex roof layout with partial shading, which can dramatically reduce solar efficiency, and the business’ high energy load,” said Ms Christiansen.

“In the final design we went with Enphase micro inverters to deliver the most efficiency from the roof, maximise output and so it can be more easily modified than a traditional solar system should the brewery wish to expand its building in future.”

“The Enphase smart solar technology also provides fantastic panel monitoring and production, which is perfect for a business in a regional area, where limited access to technicians can result in costly system downtime if not picked up. It’s exciting that the 50kW system we designed will off-set all the electricity requirements needed by Bright Brewery for producing its delicious craft beer.”

The power output was confirmed by Mr Brandon.

“Our brewhouse used around 6 megawatt hours during January, during which time our solar produced over 7 megawatt hours of power.”

Mr Brandon noted that the next focus to bring their brewing operation closer to carbon neutrality will be on the energy required to heat the brewery’s boiler, which is currently powered by natural gas and requires around 12 megawatt hours of power each month.

“Although solar was a relatively simple first step to reducing our carbon footprint, the next thing we have to tackle is gas. It’s a major component of all brewery operations like ours, and there’s no simple answer like rooftop solar,” said Mr Brandon.

“And so today we’re calling on Australia’s craft brewing industry to put sustainable operations on the industry’s national agenda.”

“We believe that sustainability should be an underpinning value of what defines a craft brewer. For us, craft brewing means really caring about how you make beer, why you’re making beer and the impact that the process and product has on your customers and surrounds. And that includes caring about your impact on the environment and the sustainable nature of your business.”

“Many small breweries already have sustainably conscious practices built in to their brewing operations, so this is a fantastic opportunity for us to work together as an industry and really tackle the big needs for innovation to futureproof the whole manufacturing process.”

Bright Brewery took their call to action to the industry’s peak body, the Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA), in order to set in motion a sustainability initiative, with a desire to define sustainable craft brewing.

“We love being part of an industry that is very collaborative. Craft brewers tend to be some of the most supportive and sharing business owners with fellow industry members. We would like the issue of environmental sustainability to be on the table at an industry level.”

The Association’s Katherine McLean confirmed that Bright Brewery’s leadership in bringing about an industry wide conversation has led to a session on environmental sustainability being programmed at the Australian Craft Brewers Conference (ACBC 2016) to be held in Brisbane on the 20th and 21st of July.

“When Bright Brewery approached us, it made complete sense to explore environmental sustainability at the ACBC 2016,” said Ms McLean.

“Bright Brewery want to start a national conversation about the ways in which sustainable initiatives can be embedded into brewery systems. Across Australia, there are amazing new technologies being spearheaded by the industry, and good business cases to back them up.”

“The ACBC provides an ideal platform in which the craft brewing industry can share experiences and foster innovation and collaboration.”

Mr Brandon expressed his excitement that the opportunity to bring together Australia’s craft brewers for this purpose will now be a reality.

Bright Brewery has committed to preparing a case study of their sustainability program for the Conference to help qualify the ease and value of craft breweries pursing the sustainable production of beer, and have called on other breweries in a similar position to do the same.

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