(Ann Arbor, MI) – On June 11, 2012, Ann Arbor’s first brewpub became Michigan’s first solar brewery with a $95K solar-thermal and photovoltaic system. Arbor Brewing Company’s sustainable energy system uses the sun’s energy to generate electricity as well as the majority of the hot water needed for brewery and restaurant operations.
The system includes a 2.4 kW solar photovoltaic array, 300 solar thermal collector tubes and a high-efficiency tankless water heater system to supplement the heat from the collector tubes when necessary. When combined with other improvements like switching to CFL and LED lighting and installing low-flow sprayers and occupancy sensors, the system is expected to offset gas usage by up to 40% and electricity usage by up to 15%.
The project grew out of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s (A2 DDA) Energy Conservation Grant Program which provided free energy audits and 50% project rebates (up to $20,000) to downtown businesses that implemented audit recommendations to become more energy efficient. ABC owner Matt Greff worked with Ann Arbor DDA Energy Programs Director David Konkle as well as a consulting team from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment led by Jarett Diamond. Together they were able to identify a number of financial resources and incentives to help offset the installation cost of the system including the $20,000 grant from the DDA, a $10,000 interest-free loan from the city, a 30% tax credit from the federal government, and various incentives from DTE.
Arbor Brewing Company’s Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti is also nearing completion on its own $250,000 Green Brewery Project which includes solar-thermal, photovoltaic, and geo-thermal technologies along with other improvements like new windows and awnings and energy-efficient chiller equipment. The system has with a total system rating of 18 kW electric, and 64.8 kW thermal and is expected to provide almost all of Corner Brewery’s hot water needs and up to 15% of its electricity. We believe this to be the largest-capacity solar installation of any craft brewery East of Colorado. It is set to go online later this summer.
According to Greff the project, which took over two years to complete, was worth every bit of effort that went into it. “It feels really good to know that we were able to make changes that are as good for the environment as they are for the bottom line. We couldn’t have done it without the expertise and assistance we received from our many partners and we hope to be able to assist other small businesses interested in improving their energy efficiency.”