Energy Efficiency, Industrial, Solar - February 15, 2018
Sierra Nevada combines solar and natural gas to power brewery
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., based in Chico, Calif., was honored by Chico Electric for its sustainability efforts, centered on its $4 power plant, consisting of three units that supports its brewery with a combination of solar and natural gas, boosted slightly from utility sources. An artificial brain is used to keep the power supply steady, with only a certain percentage coming from PG&E.
ChicoER News, which profiled Sierra Nevada’s operation, noted, “It’s been more than a dozen years in the making.” Cheri Chastain, Sierra Nevada’s sustainability manager, said the company realized that power costs were a key to managing production costs. The brewery installed hydrogen-powered fuel cells for energy production in 2005, before turning to solar power, thanks in part to incentives offered by the state.
Following installation of photovoltaic panels in 2007 for about 2MW of power, the company installed two banks for five Capstone microturbines for another 2MW. Chastain pointed out that the turbines also produce heat, which is routed into the brewery to support the boilers. About 70% percent of power for the brewery comes from the microturbines, while 20% of power is solar.
Lastly, a new 1MWh Tesla battery storage bank was installed in 2017 as the company recognized storage as an important power source. ChicoER News reported that Sierra Nevada is “nearly off the grid in its power generation” as the solar, microturbine, and battery elements were each installed under general contractor Chico Electric.