New Belgium brews beer with the help of the sun


New Belgium Brewing, headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado and famous for its Fat Tire beer and Voodoo Ranger IPA, has announced the completion of a solar installation at its Asheville brewery.

The 446 kW system, installed by Renu Energy Solutions, spans the facility’s 114,000 square foot roof, generating an estimated 620,000 kWh of electricity annually. The installation is comprised of 1,063 Q-Cells Q.Peak Duo L-G6.3 BFG 420W modules, three SolarEdge SE100KUS inverters and one SolarEdge SE66.6KUS inverter, and 527 SolarEdge P960 optimizers, all mounted on a QuickMount QRail Standard pitched racking system.

A portion of the installation at New Belgium’s Asheville Brewery. Image: New Belgium Brewing Company

The new solar installation in Asheville more than doubles the solar power that New Belgium previously provided across both of its breweries, building on the company’s first rooftop solar initiative at its original Fort Collins, Colorado brewery back in 2010. Over 25 years, the renewable energy now being produced in Asheville will offset roughly 11,100 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to eliminating the greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 2,200 passenger cars annually, according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator.

“As we celebrate 10 years since announcing our move to Asheville with a brewery designed for rooftop solar, we’re thrilled to make good on our commitment to add more renewable energy to the grid,” said Jay Richardson, general manager of New Belgium Brewing Asheville

In August 2020, New Belgium announced that its Fat Tire Amber Ale became America’s first nationally distributed carbon-neutral beer, made possible via New Belgium’s ongoing renewable commitments, including powering its breweries with wind power and producing electricity with solar and biogas technology. The company’s first installation was a 200 kW rooftop system in Fort Collins, followed by a 96kW solar array, added in 2015. The Asheville installation was completed by Renu Energy Solutions, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is Renu’s largest brewery install to date. Renu is also working on a solar installation at New Belgium’s east coast distribution center in Enka, NC. Once complete, the 503.2kW PV array will consist of 1,184 panels.

“We are honored to serve as New Belgium Brewing’s installation partner for their spectacular solar project in Asheville, NC,” said Jay Radcliffe, CEO of Renu Energy Solutions. “With our shared commitment to the Asheville community, our partnership with New Belgium showcases building renewable energy directly within a community, placing clean energy production closest to where energy is consumed.”

New Belgium also developed the first carbon footprint study for beer, and has donated significant money to climate and environmental causes.

A growing number of breweries across the country are looking to make solar a part of their Environmental, Social, and Governance portfolios.  At the end of April, Vermont’s Lawson’s Finest Liquids announced the completion of what it says is the largest solar canopy in the state. The canopy, built by SunCommon, features 495 REC 375W solar modules, which are arranged above 40 covered parking spaces. Customers with electric vehicles can top off the battery at the 10 level-two electric vehicle charging stations.  The Waitsfield Brewery and Taproom was generating about 10% of the electricity to run its operation, but with the addition of 215 kW from 495 solar modules, it expects that 60% of its electricity bill will be offset with net metering credits.

LG also released a case study last summer outlining  the company’s work with Lagunitas Brewery, showing the struggles overcome and the innovation needed to deliver a project that met the needs of such a unique customer. The $5 million-dollar, 2.1 MW solar project, inclusive of more than 6,000 LG solar panels, was able to offset about two thirds (60%) of the brewery’s energy use and budget during its first year of operation. Prior to the installation, the brewery spent about $1 million annually on electricity. For a different perspective, the solar panels generate enough power for more than 600 average-sized homes.

Image: New Belgium Brewing Company

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