New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo., begins installation of the largest privately owned solar array in Colorado today, the company announced. The 200 kW system will produce 16 percent of the brewer's peak electrical load and 3 percent of its total electrical energy use. The array is part of the company's partnership with Fort Collins’ FortZED, which aims to create the world’s largest “active zero energy district” through Smart Grid and renewable energy technology.
New Belgium, along with several other Fort Collins entities, responded to a request from the Department of Energy to demonstrate peak load reduction. They were one of nine groups nationwide to receive such a grant.
“We’re excited to include a fairly large solar PV installation as part of our total load reduction project portfolio,” said New Belgium Sustainability Director Jennifer Orgolini. “It nicely complements our current on-site generation which uses methane from our process water treatment plant, and the new generation capacity, thermal storage and demand response technologies we’ll also be adding for peak reduction. The five projects we’re doing to reduce peak will cost over $3 million, but the DOE grant and partner contributions allow us to help further research required to make distributed generation and smart grids a reality for the whole country.”
The solar array will cost a little more than $1 million, and New Belgium will receive reimbursement for up to 40 percent through the Department of Energy grant. The 870 panels will be placed on top of the packaging hall where engineers estimate it can power the bottle line up to eight hours on a sunny day.