It certainly is if heaven’s other name is Bright, a picturesque town in North East Victoria’s Alpine region – and yes the place lives up to its name when it comes to glorious sunshine hours.
At the heart of this little solar mecca is Bright Brewery, recently crowned with a 50kW solar system that provides enough energy to off-set all the electricity needed to produce its range of delicious craft beers! It’s also the first major step in the business’ quest for carbon neutrality.
Solar is a perfect fit for breweries! It matches their energy load profiles beautifully. We designed a solar system for Bright Brewery, in partnership with our friends at enphase, that would maximise the efficiency of its complicated and partly shaded roof space, while being able to adapt to future expansions of this flourishing business. Enphase micro inverters and smart solar technology was a no-brainer to achieve our objectives – the system is already performing above estimations and will provide around $18,000 a year in energy savings, with a payback of less than 5 years. (Cheers to micro inverters for micro breweries!).
Occasionally a project comes along that becomes the catalyst for something bigger than itself. I’m lucky to have worked on a number of these, but this special brewery and the community that surrounds it – both in Bright and the Craft Beer industry more widely – has won a place in my heart.
Working closely with Bright Brewery’s visionary owner Scott Brandon and his ace team, being inspired by the overwhelming support amongst businesses in the US for the Brewery Climate Declaration and the innovative sustainable practices already being implemented by some here in Australia, we used this project as a springboard to call for an industry-wide game plan. An industry accord that will put sustainable operations and production of craft beer on the National agenda.
Movements like this are all about timing. Excitingly the time seems to be right for this one! The Craft Beer Industry Association has put innovation and sustainable operations on the agenda for this year’s craft brewers conference, while big players like Stone and Wood, as well as cool cat social enterprise The Good Beer Co. have already expressed game-on support for the initiative.
Craft Beer is a nimble industry – a disruptor to the big beer boys who have ruled Aussie bars and the footy field until now. The beer industry is experiencing a change not unlike the energy industry – where renewables and decentralised supply is disrupting our traditional fossil fuel driven grid system. Both these industry trends are, in my mind, an indication of broader social change. It’s the companies and industries that jump on board to embrace these changes that will shine.
“It’s not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change”. – Charles Darwin
Craft breweries, like their fellow wineries, rely on special quality ingredients to produce their delicious, unique and often regionally reflective brews. In an earlier post titled The Hidden Horrors of Climate Change; a Return to 80’s Style Wine, I spoke about the challenges wineries are experiencing due to a warming climate (and the devastating effects on some of my favourite varietals). The same is true for beer.
One of beer’s prime ingredients – the little Hop flower – needs to be grown in specific climatic conditions to produce the delicious smorgasbord of craft beers we have on tap. Yet research from the US is already showing that climate change is having an effect – both on Hop production, and also the availability of water that’s a critical part of the brewing process.
One of the drivers behind Bright Brewery’s switch to solar, Scott Brandon told us, was the sense of responsibility to care for the area’s beautiful natural environment. He built a brewery in Bright because he loves the rich natural environment and the awesome Alpine adventure lifestyle it provides. As such he believes Bright Brewery needs to do its bit in sustaining it.
A massive SG cheers to that SB. x