The 1,561 SANYO HIT® Power solar modules located atop the Stone Brewing Company’s 55,000 sq. ft. brewery are serving up more than 450,762 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean, money-saving solar electricity each year, they’re creating a WOW-factor among brewery patrons that gins up a rock-solid brand profile that is inspiring others in the energy-intensive brewing business around the globe.
The 312 kW, $2.6 million system is one of the largest rooftop arrays in California. And Stone is one of the first craft breweries in the world to use rooftop solar power. Over its lifetime, the system will save Stone Brewing Company more than $3 million in electricity costs. It is expected to pay for itself in six or so years. The clean energy produced by the solar array will offset more than 538,000 pounds of carbon emissions over its lifetime, which is equivalent to planting 204 acres of trees.
The solar solution is generating big energy savings for Stone, but it took little time to install. Sanyo distribution partner Borrego Solar Systems, Inc. worked with Hamann Construction to design and install the system in an impressive four months’ time.
“Environmental sustainability is a core value of Stone Brewing Company. In every aspect of what we do, we're looking for opportunities to conserve energy, incorporate sustainable design and reduce our impact on the environment," said Stone Brewing Company President and Co-Founder Steve Wagner. “Our brewery home, Escondido, California, is one of the sunniest places in America. Solar just made sense,” he said.
With this in mind, Stone’s contractors designed the brewery roof to handily carry the added solar load. They housed the brewery in a large, level structure that was built around a maze of mechanical equipment essential to brewery operations. And they designed the rooftop solar array to ensure every inch of available space was used. Their aim was to enjoy the benefits of the largest array possible for that space. “Our contractors, Hamann Construction and Borrego Solar, exceeded our expectations,” added Wagner.
"The ongoing commitment from forward-thinking companies like Stone Brewing Co. is vital to secure the accelerated adoption of solar energy," said Aaron Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., who collaborated with Hamann Construction to design and build the system. Hall says Sanyo’s HIT Power modules were selected because of their certified cell efficiency ratings and reliable power generating capabilities. "The array we designed for Stone uses the most efficient technologies available, ensuring the consistent production of renewable energy -- and reinforcing Stone's commitment to environmental sustainability -- for years to come," he said.
“Sanyo’s HIT Power® solar solution has been offsetting about 30% of our energy costs, saving us over $86,000 a year while reinforcing our philosophy of sustainable living,” observed Stone Brewing Company Social Media Coordinator Jacob McKean. “The fact that Stone’s beers are crafted using solar energy is also well received by our customers, who like the clean, green connotations of our fine ales.”
The green doesn’t stop there. In addition to carving out a good part of Stone Brewing Company’s electricity bill, the array qualified for California’s Solar Initiative (CSI) state cash rebates that represented around 25% of the system costs. Bank of America Leasing structured a 10-year lease purchase that maximized the available federal solar investment tax credits, utility incentive payments and the reduction in electricity bills to provide $2.5 million in financing for the project, part of a $20 billion Bank of America environmental initiative.
Stone Brewing Company’s Chris Cochran says the company’s IT analyst keeps track of the company’s solar array data and that the Sanyo-powered system is generating “an impressive amount of energy.” The system, he says, was interconnected in June 2008 and came fully online in September 2008. “With that in mind, our solar panels generated 243,393 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy in all of 2008. By contrast, the panels have generated a grand total of 316,146 kWh over the past six months,” said Cochran.
“The most power that our solar panels have ever generated in one day is 1,739 kWh. “To give you some perspective,” Cochran continued, “at that rate we could generate 10,656 kWh in one week, which would power the average American household for an entire year.”
Renowned for big character beers like Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Levitation Ale, Arrogant Bastard Ale and Stone Imperial Russian Stout, the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens boasts a 8,500 square feet facility featuring a one-acre beer garden. It offers a mind-boggling 32 craft & specialty beers on tap. Over the past decade, Stone Brewing Company has earned notoriety as one of the fastest-growing and highest-rated breweries in the world, according to both RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com.
The company focuses on incorporating all-natural, organic, & local ingredients into its menu and beers, which makes it the largest restaurant purchaser of local, small-farm organic produce in San Diego. Its beers are distributed in 35 states.
Late last year, a prestigious jury of urban planners, landscape architects and San Diego media chose the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens from among 54 competing projects for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) esteemed President’s Award – the San Diego chapter’s highest honor.
“[We] were impressed by the way the design fulfilled so much. It is environmentally sustainable, very human, and usable,” noted one judge. “It doesn't just sustain the environment, it sustains social and cultural interaction,” commented another.
Remarkably, the land on which Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens now sits was originally a storm water detention basin. Its transformation into a productive, clean-energy, revenue generating business and recreational site attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year from all over the world.
Established in 1996, Stone Brewing Company recently celebrated its 14th anniversary commensurate with its Invitational Beer Festival, which – like so many of the brewery’s banner events -- perennially attracts locals and tourists alike.
As one of the world’s most desirable destinations, San Diego is teeming with tourist attractions. Historic Old Town, Sea World, Coronado, the World-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Balboa Park and now, a solar-powered brewery. At Stone Brewing Company, expert tour guides take patrons right through the heart of the working brewery, where they’re introduced to craft beer culture and the brewing process. Tours last approximately 45 minutes and are followed by a guided tasting of delectable beers. Like the copious amounts of sunshine Stone uses to brew its own brand of clean energy each day, the tours are free.
“Our push for clean energy represents another step towards sustainable design, which was our goal from the beginning. Our solar array, along with other conservation initiatives at our brewery and restaurant, helps us make great beer with minimal impact on the environment. Thankfully, we’re not alone,” noted Cochran.
Sierra Nevada Brewery is another California-based brewery who’s installed solar to accommodate about 34% of their brewery’s energy needs – and others like Colorado’s Odell Brewing Company are following suit.
Added Cochran: “We’re proud to be part of an industry that is leading the charge for sustainable energy and environmentally responsible business practices.”