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Brewer Recommends ‘Diverse Approach to Green Power’

February 11, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

Sierra Nevada Energy ManageSierra Nevada Brewing, based in Chico, Calif., has been an EPA Green Power Partner since 2007. The company recently told the EPA:

“Our green energy strategy first began with energy efficiency to make sure we were using our electricity as efficiently as possible. We implemented this through lighting upgrades, installing Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) on all motors and pumps, purchasing newer and more efficient equipment, and addressing employee behaviors. We then installed a 1 MW hydrogen fuel cell system in 2005 to cover our base load. The ultimate goal was to power the fuel cells with biogas produced at our onsite wastewater treatment plant but unfortunately, that did not work out as planned. Instead, we recover our biogas and use it to partially fuel our boilers. The fuel cells generated 55 percent of our total energy needs for our Chico brewery in 2013. In 2008, we began installation on what is now two MW of solar photovoltaics on all available roof spaces. In 2013, solar power generated almost 22 percent of our total energy needs for the facility.

“In 2012, we began construction on a second brewery in Mills River, NC (pictured), which will mirror the efforts we have put in place in Chico. That brewery will have 600 kW of roof top and parking lot mounted solar panels. We will also be recovering the biogas produced at our onsite wastewater treatment plant and using it to fuel two 400 kW microturbines to generate electricity.”

In terms of lessons learned in making the switch to green power, Sierra Nevada Brewing said: “Utilizing a diverse approach to green power including various forms of generation and energy efficiency is important. Your local climate, the cost of electricity, and varying regional incentives all impact what technologies work best in certain applications. One can generate all the green power in the world, but if that power is not used efficiently the original purpose has been lost, so energy efficiency needs to be a central part of any energy management plan.”


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