MMM…Solar Powered Beer in Colorado

465184 nbblogo2006 MMM...Solar Powered Beer in Colorado

California wineries have been abuzz with solar installations for afew years now, but it’s not too often we see a brewery pop up on theradar.

Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing Co.’s 200 kw solar arraytoday went live, making it the largest privately owned, on-site solarinstallation in Colorado. The 870 solar panels will provide anestimated 13 percent of the brewery and packaging facility’s peak powerdemand. The energy savings will be significant, but the brewery–whichpurchases wind power and uses on-site methane for heat andelectricity–says it was partly pursuing solar for the greater good: The array is part of the brewer’s commitment to FortCollins’ FortZED initiative, a public/private partnership that aims tocreate the world’s largest “active zero energy district” through SmartGrid and renewable energy technology. [Press Release]

FortZED, according to their website, accounts for 10-15 percent ofFort Collins Utilities’ distribution system; they aim to reduceparticipants’ 45 MW total peak demand by 20-30 percent. Individualmembers like New Belgium, Colorado State University, and the Governor’sEnergy Office contribute to this effort in different ways. Reducingon-site power consumption is clearly a big part of what needs to bedone, but FortZED is a comprehensive plan that includes energyefficiency, utility scale renewable energy, and even green buildingretrofits in the district.

New Belgium, in case you were wondering, makes the rightly famousFat Tire amber ale. Since the packaging hall’s solar array can providepower for up to eight hours of bottling, expect (1) lots of jokes aboutgreen beer, and (2) other breweries to hop on board. With Colorado’sutility-distributed solar rebates complementing the generous federaltax credit, now is the perfect time for Colorado home and businessowners to go solar. Learn more about commercial solar incentives inColorado here.