Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA
Not too long ago, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was just one of many little craft breweries popping up all over the U.S. Now, it's mainstream and produces a pale ale that most beer lovers have enjoyed. Sierra Nevada just added Tesla Powerpack batteries to its brewery in Chico, CA.
The company is getting hit hard with demand charges for its electricity use. It actually paid more in 2016 for demand charges, than its normal electric bill. Now, Sierra Nevada is looking to Tesla Powerpack energy storage technology to solve the problem. During peak times, the brewery can draw from the Powerpack, rather than incurring the additional charges. This also helps to ease the stress that the massive facility puts on the area's power grid.
Some wineries have turned to this type of technology, and while there are few, Sierra Nevada isn't the only brewery headed in this direction. The Maui Brewing company also installed Tesla Powerpacks. In Colorado, a study was performed that made lithium-ion electrodes from brewery wastewater. We will begin to see more companies, especially those like Sierra Nevada, with roots in sustainable practices, turning to similar concepts.
Sierra Nevada is already active as a "clean energy" advocate, with its use of solar power. The company's sustainability manager, Cheri Chastain said:
"The batteries are a piece of our energy puzzle that also includes pieces like craft brewing’s largest solar system, 2 megawatts of Capstone microturbines, multiple heat recovery projects, and an extensive suite of energy-efficiency projects."
Because brewing is a scientific process, relying on specific temperatures and chemical reactions, the company doesn't have the convenience of avoiding peak times. The process involves heating and cooling multiple huge batches, which both require an enormous amount of energy. The filtering and bottling process also requires electricity. At any given time, a plethora of batches can be at any stage of the process, while others are at a different stage. It is an around-the-clock situation. Chastain explained:
"There are spikes, however, in early morning or late evening when the sun is not out and the load is slightly larger than what our microturbines can provide -- this is where the batteries come in. They are designed to provide the short-duration power needed to avoid high demand charges when solar and microturbines aren’t enough."
The facility now has 1 megawatt-hour of Tesla Powerpack batteries, which significantly diminish overall power needs. Added to this, Sierra Nevada will get funds back as part of California's Self-Generation Incentive Program. So, the Tesla products will easily pay for themselves over the course of about two years. Daniel Finn-Foley, senior analyst at GTM Research shared (with many puns):
"Tapping into systems like these could cure what ales large consumers by bottling up charges that hang over their balance sheets. There is a lot here to distill, as this is one of the lager energy storage projects we’ve seen in this stout, yet lush, market. Cheers to Tesla, but true proof will come beyond the first draft, as broader commercialization is not, so to speak, easy."