As the cost of solar continues to fall, more and more homeowners are adding it to their properties – but did you know that commercial and industrial (C&I) businesses are also able to reap the benefits of solar. The incentives for businesses to go solar are often even better than for homeowners! Lagunitas, a popular California brewery, recently joined the growing list of businesses to go solar and has been enjoying all of its benefits, both from a financial and community perspective. We sat down with the brewery to learn more about their experience going solar.
Lagunitas is on the growing list of companies that have gone solar.
The brewery installed three different solar systems – including an agrivoltatic solar farm – on their property to save money and reduce their carbon footprint.
Their solar systems offset about 60 percent of their energy and have been applauded by employees and customers.
If you want to install solar for your business, you can do so on the EnergySage Marketplace.
According to Lagunitas, across the brewing industry, energy consumption constitutes about three to eight percent of total production costs. This energy is consumed while cooling and operating the pumps, compressors, and motors necessary to brew beer. So offsetting a large portion of this energy with solar provides a substantial economic advantage to the business.
Also, Lagunitas prides itself on "doing the right thing." In their words, this means "supporting our communities where we work, live, and play, but also reducing our environmental footprint." Being located in California – the leading state for solar – made their decision to go solar much easier due to the abundance of sun and financial incentives.
Once Lagunitas decided to go solar, they hired a third-party solar consultant, who provided them with an energy analysis explaining the brewery's solar power requirements. The estimate was daunting and seemed "impossible to hit," so they knew they had to find an installer who could design a system with high-performing solar panels with a track record of reliability. After reviewing quotes from several possible installers, Lagunitas decided to move forward with West Coast Solar, just a few miles from the brewery.
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West Coast Solar recommended LG Solar's 72-cell 340 Watt solar panels due to their high power output and well-regarded reputation in the solar industry. They decided to install three solar systems on the brewery's property, each with its optimal design.
The first system was designed for Lagunitas' administrative building, which holds about 25 employees and has a flat roof. Using LG Solar's custom racking systems, West Coast Solar installed a 230 kilowatt (KW) system on the roof.
Cold storage building
The second system was installed in Lagunitas' cold storage building, which stores the millions of barrels of beer that the brewery produces each year. This system includes 1.05 megawatts (MW) of solar on the building's flat roof. For context, residential solar quotes on EnergySage average about 10 kilowatts (kW) nationwide; in other words, the Lagunitas cold storage install could power over 100 average homes.
The final system was the most unique – and the most complicated. Lagunitas owns a farm behind the brewery with cattle and sheep, who graze on grass and spend grain from the brewery. Lagunitas could maximize its solar investment by creating an agrivoltaic solar farm that incorporates agriculture and solar into one dynamic system. West Coast Solar designed "Cow-Port" solar arrays at a height that allowed the animals to graze underneath. The arrays are spaced at distances that provide both sunlight for the grass and shade for the cattle and sheep.
Ground-mounted solar systems typically require more time and paperwork than rooftop solar arrays: Lagunitas' agrivoltatic solar farm was no different. However, after about a year and a half, West Coast Solar installed Lagunitas' final 850 kW solar system.
In their own words, "It's been fantastic!" Even during the COVID-19 pandemic – when they temporarily had to close and generated more electricity than they were using – they could sell the excess energy back to PG&E (their utility) for a profit. Now that they're back in full swing, their three solar panel systems offset about 60 percent of the brewery's energy and costs. The best part? Their employees and customers are all proud of their efforts to reduce their environmental footprint: a win-win situation!
Are you inspired to go solar at your business? EnergySage is here to help! To start exploring your solar options, sign up for a free account on EnergySage today. We'll work with you to understand your project goals and energy usage and walk you through an initial design. Once you're ready for quotes, we'll connect you with our network of pre-vetted solar installers in your area!
Special thanks to Keely Wachs with Lagunitas for her contributions to this article.