American Beer Brought To You By Solar Energy

solar powered brewery

Solar energy can help drastically reduce the energy costs associated with making beer.

Americans love beer so much; over 50 billion pints are consumed annually.  And now there’s a whole new reason for breweries to win favor.  Many breweries are tapping into renewable energy sources, heating water with solar power, and installing solar arrays to help with overall electricity costs.

Central Waters Brewing Company

The first brewery in Wisconsin to use solar power to heat domestic water was Central Waters Brewing Company.  The owners, Paul Graham & Anello Mollica, acknowledge that the process of brewing beer is resource-intensive.  Profuse amounts of water and energy are consumed to produce beer, and using solar power is a great way to reduce the environmental impact.  For example, every day the brewing process at Central Waters uses approximately 1,500 gallons of water which are heated to 165°F.  The water at Central Waters is now pre-heated by the sun to about 140°F, and then it’s heated the rest of the way by a natural gas boiler.

A leading goal of Central Waters Brewing is beer production with sustainable energy sources, and the company is a leader in Wisconsin’s sustainability movement.

Central Waters has also installed a photovoltaic (PV) solar system consisting of about 100 solar panels, which have a combined capacity of 20 kilowatts.  The PV system is helping to reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed to provide electricity for the brewery.

solar powered american beer

Notice the solar hot water panels placed all along the roof of this brewery to help out with the high water heating costs.

The Milwaukee Brewing Company

The Milwaukee Brewing Company is in the process of installing 28 solar panels which will be used for preheating water that’s used in the brewing process.  This step is part of the company’s commitment to making upgrades in energy efficiency.  It’s expected that the solar installation will reduce energy costs for the brewery by 27 percent.

Barrington Brewery & Restaurant

Barrington Brewery & Restaurant was the East coast’s first brewery to brew beer using a solar energy hot water system.  About 1,000 gallons of hot water are heated daily using the 30-panel solar system.

Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille

Located in New London, New Hampshire, Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille has construction underway for a 126-panel solar energy system, making it New Hampshire’s first solar-powered brewery.

The annual electric bill for the Flying Goose is about $24,000 and rising.  The solar system is expected to lower that cost by 25 percent, and it’s projected to take between five and eight years to see a Return on Investment (ROI), covering the cost of the solar installation.

Odell Brewing Company

Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado, is making several steps toward environmental friendliness.  The brewery has added a 76.8 kilowatt solar array on the roof of a building expansion, and it’s expected that solar power will now provide about 39% of their energy needs. Odell’s also turns off the lights a good portion of the day because of a day lighting system in the warehouse which keeps the area illuminated by natural light whenever it’s daylight.  The company also limits distribution to nine states, as a way of cutting down on the use of fossil fuels.

These are just some of the breweries around the country that are switching to renewable energy.  This news will no doubt make the taste of beer even more satisfying for the energy conscious.

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The Cost-Effectiveness of a Residential Active Solar Heating System

active solar heating

There are many incentives offered in every state that make active solar heating an attractive and cost effective heating method.

An active solar heating system could save you a lot of money on energy costs.  If you do some research into your specific situation, you may find that switching to solar heating is the smartest decision for you.

What is an active solar heating system?  It’s simply a heating system which depends upon the sun’s energy as well as mechanical means, such as pumps, motors, or valves.  Every state in the U.S.A. provides different energy incentives; and in your area, it’s possible that you are eligible for incentives on this type of system.  For example, some homeowners qualify for certain income tax credits when they install active solar heating equipment.  A specific example is that in Wisconsin, the purchase of an active solar energy system for the home may be exempt from general property taxes.

When is Active Solar Heating Most Cost Effective?

It’s most cost effective when a homeowner in a cold climate invests in a good solar heating system that displaces the use of a costly heating fuel such as oil, electricity, or propane.  This is particularly true when you factor in such incentives as income tax deductions or credits, sales tax exemptions, and property tax deductions or exemptions.

The cost of an active solar heating system varies, though a reduction in the cost of solar panels means that it’s far less of an expense than it was just a couple of years ago.  The warranty on a solar system is usually a minimum of ten years, though it’s reasonable to expect that a solar heating system will last for decades.

If you’re looking to get the best value for your solar heating dollars, it’s best to install a hot water system as well as a heating system.  The reason for this is that the solar collector will be able to heat water that’s used in the summertime, rather than being idle when indoor heating is unneeded.

Factors Which Determine the Size of the Solar System

solar system

Our solar installation professionals can help you design the best system for your needs.

Experts in solar installation can guide you in understanding all of the considerations which go into choosing the size of your solar heating system.  Some of the factors are the particular heating needs of your home, the layout of the site, and the design of the system.  Homeowner associations (HOAs) need to be figured into the solar installation decisions of most homeowners; what’s important is to determine what the guidelines of your particular HOA are, to avoid complications which could become costly.  Keep in mind that many people have been successful in challenging HOAs which are overly restrictive regarding solar installations.

Did you know that it’s rare for 100% of a home’s heating needs to be provided by solar, the reason being that it’s too costly?  The most economical active solar heating system designs provide between 40% and 80% of a home’s heating requirements.  It’s rarely cost-effective to install a system which provides less than 40% of the needed heat. Our professional solar energy consultants can help run the numbers for you and figure out the most cost effective solution to your solar energy needs. Any NASS member solar store can help find the perfect balance of solar heating so that you can save money with solar.

The insulation of a home contributes to the level of efficiency of your solar system.  And a home which incorporates techniques employing passive solar heating also need less supplemental heat sources in addition to solar.

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MetLife Stadium and Other NFL Facilities Put Solar Energy on Display, in a Big Way

metlife solar

The solar panels on the MetLife Stadium form a ring of colored light around the stadium at night.

MetLife Stadium is more than just the home of the National Football League’s New York Giants (reigning Super Bowl champions) and New York Jets.  The NFL’s largest stadium is also the home of 1,350 solar panels which produce 25 times the power required to run the stadium’s LED lights at night.  The bright lights, which are a high-profile symbol of the value of renewable energy sources, turn green or blue, depending on which home team is on the field.

The ring of solar panels on MetLife Stadium debuted at the first game of the current football season, when the New York Giants played against the Dallas Cowboys.  The Super Bowl champs may have lost the opening game, but their use of solar power is definitely a winning play which anyone who is energy conscious will recognize and appreciate.

The excess power generated by MetLife’s solar panels will be used to power the rest of the stadium.  The 350,000 kilowatt hours produced cover about 10 percent of the energy requirements on game days.

MetLife Stadium

The MetLife Stadium's winning look was designed just in time to light the way for The Giant's successful season.

David Crane, who is the chief executive officer of NRG Energy, which designed the ring, first got a good look at the new solar-powered lighting system on the New York stadium from an airplane.  He believes this new feature will emerge as an iconic physical element of the stadium and that the lights look a lot more impressive from the outside.  In fact, he said they look “very, very impressive.”

Crane commented on the fact that the cost of solar panels has dropped tremendously, making it easier for companies to see a return on their solar system investments.  He also pointed out that installing solar panels on a desert plain is much more cost efficient than installing panels with a sophisticated, stylized look, as is the case at MetLife Stadium.

Crane says that he hopes a second phase will continue with the installation of solar panels as well as electric car charging stations in the enormous parking lot at MetLife Stadium.

Fedex solar

Besides the New Yorkers, other teams are following suit with the installation of solar systems including The Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

The New York teams aren’t the only ones sponsoring renewable energy projects.  Two teams unveiled clean energy projects at the end of last year’s football season.  Eight thousand solar panels were installed at the home of The Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field.  A new solar array made up of 3,750 solar panels was revealed on the roof of CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

A canopy is currently under construction at Patriot Place, adjacent to the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium.  Rooftop panels will also be installed — as many as 3,000 solar panels — on top of a Sleepy’s Mattress store.    The canopy will provide a cover for patrons of Patriot Place.  Between the panels and the canopy, approximately 1.1 million kilowatts per year will be produced, which adds up to about 60% of the energy needed to power the outdoor shopping and dining center.

The owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie, has announced that a plan is underway to make Lincoln Financial Field the most eco-friendly facility in the NFL.

More and more NFL teams will likely get on board the shift toward renewable energy, especially if they want to rise above the efforts being made by Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer – which are also great stories about the advancement of clean energy among professional sports teams.

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Springfield, Massachusetts, Takes Steps Toward Going Green with Solar Power

ma solar power

Solar panels are scheduled to adorn the top of schools and municipal buildings throughout Springfield, MA to help the city save on energy costs.

Cities across the U.S.A. are struggling to keep their budgets balanced.  The rising cost of energy is just one of many issues that municipalities in America are dealing with.  City governments which take the long view and invest in solar power as a way to reduce energy costs are smart, rare, and forward-thinking; and Springfield, Massachusetts, is one of those visionary cities.

As a part of an effort to both reduce costs and improve energy efficiency, the City of Springfield has recently put a MA solar power pilot program into place.  Solar energy units are scheduled to be installed on eight municipal building rooftops.

This summer the pilot program received a strong showing of advance interest, including healthy signs of competitive bidding.  The city’s chief development officer, Kevin E. Kennedy, spoke highly of the turnout.  He also said that one of the hopes is to continue expanding and eventually add solar panels to additional municipal buildings.

Other expectations that Kennedy expressed included that using solar power will equate to taxpayer savings and demonstrate that Springfield is an energy-efficient, well-run city.  He indicated that the city is attempting to find every cost savings available for taxpayers.

Three schools are targeted as part of the pilot solar program, those being Kiley Middle School, Central High, and Kennedy Middle School.  Solar panels will also be installed on the Public Works building on Tapley Street and at Cyr Arena at Forest Park.

There are also some smaller MA solar power projects proposed by the city, including solar hot water units at:
•    Raymond Sullivan Public Safety Complex on Carew Street;
•    Fire Alarm Headquarters on Roosevelt Avenue; and
•    Fire Department headquarters on Worthington Street.

Another site slated for solar power is a closed landfill on Stafford Street which covers five acres.

solar farm

The existing 12-acre lot contains over 8,000 solar panels and produces over 2.3 megawatts of power in Indian Orchards.

Springfield’s pilot solar program isn’t the first move toward energy efficiency in the city.  A 2.3-megawatt MA solar power station was constructed on Goodwin Street in Indian Orchard at the former Chapman Valve site.  Kennedy said that the Indian Orchard project proved the value of switching to solar energy.

In preparing to receive bids for the solar project, city officials prepared information about the condition and age of the roofs, along with photographs.  Some of the targeted roofs are new and some are older.  Potential bidders will be able to visit the sites before placing their bids.  The city is also checking to see if some of the roofs need to be replaced, which may be the case for Central High School and the Public Works building.

City officials are devoted to taking care of all of the details involved with bringing the vision for solar energy to pass.  And if they come across bumps in the road along their journey, they may be able to draw from experiences of other municipalities which have taken bold steps to switch to solar.

San Francisco, California, for example has been a leader in going solar.  The city has provided alluring incentives for citizens to begin investing in solar energy.  In addition, the city passed a $100 million bond initiative which was applied toward rewarding home owners that pursue renewable energy sources.

Another city that Springfield could draw inspiration from is Flagstaff, Arizona, which takes a proactive approach to helping homeowners deal with the upfront costs of installing solar panels.

MA solar powerWhether installing solar PV panels on municipal buildings or providing enticing incentives for homeowners and businesses to switch to renewable energy, cities like Springfield are proactive about contributing to cleaner air and energy independence. If you live in the Springfield area and are thinking about taking advantage of MA solar power as well, contact Higgins Solar Store for experienced solar store professionals in Barre, MA with all of your questions and to move forward with your solar project.


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