Liquid sunshine! Brewery to make beer using only its own energy after installing more solar panels

January 25, 2024

A brewery on Bristol’s outskirts has installed hundreds more solar panels on its roof to harness as much renewable energy as possible for beer production.

Hare Brewery at Warmley, which is owned by Cornish brewing and pub group St Austell, will now be able to generate an additional 230,511kWh electricity a year by adding the 608 new panels to its existing 892 on the site, pictured.

This will be the equivalent of powering around 150 homes.

The new panels cover the entire roof space of the distribution centre at the brewery, one of the region’s largest.

St Austell hopes that during the summer the brewery will produce its range of beers from almost 100% renewable energy as the new system is designed so all generated power can be consumed on site.

In winter the site will draw a minimal amount of electricity from the grid.

St Austell, which acquired the brewery in 2016 when it took over Bath Ales, estimated that the arrays will save 50,000kg of CO2 per year – equating to 85.5 passengers’ roundtrip flights to Munich.

St Austell head of sustainability Elle Sambrook said: “This is a really big step towards our net zero plans to eliminate our avoidable emissions.

“We set ourselves an additional goal to increase our on-site green energy and reach 50% energy consumption from renewables across all sites by 2030. “These solar panels are a big part of making that goal a reality and we are already at 40% onsite generation at Hare Brewery with this installation.”

In line with St Austell’s overall sustainability aims, Hare Brewery production manager Will Hartley has also been leading on brewing its beers with less energy, including reducing the amount of steam used in the brewing process.

He said: “Our teams are focused on several different improvement projects to reduce our energy consumption and waste.

“The method with the biggest impact is likely to be optimising our boil evaporation – effectively we will use less steam to achieve our boil.

“This will mean we reduce the amount of natural gas we use to make our beer.”

Two years after acquiring Bath Ales, St Austell – best known for its Tribute, Proper Job IPA and Korev lager brands – doubled the capacity of Hare Brewery to produce more than 55,000 brewers’ barrels of beer per year – the equivalent of over 14.5m pints.

All the solar panels at Hare Brewery were installed by Cornish company ZLC Energy, which was also responsible for arrays at St Austell’s head office and Cornwall distribution centre in St Columb.

ZLC managing director Matthew Shepherd said: “We are proud to have worked with St Austell since 2012 to support it in working towards its sustainability goals.

“St Austell is a great customer to work with and there is nothing better to celebrate the completed install with than a cold pint of Tribute.”

Bath Ales owns The Wellington in Horfield and The Lamplighters at Shirehamtpon as well as four pubs in Bath.

Family-owned St Austell owns more than 180 pubs, inns and hotels across the West Country.

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