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? In fact, 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 the benefits that it has to offer, 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 decided to go solar
The brewery decided to install 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 both employees and customers
If you’re looking to install solar for your business, you can do so on the EnergySage Marketplace
Why go solar?
According to Lagunitas, across the brewing industry, energy consumption constitutes about three to eight percent of total production costs. Most of 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 huge economic advantage to the business.
Additionally, Lagunitas prides itself on being committed to “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 that much easier, due to the abundance of sun and financial incentives.
The solar shopping process
Once Lagunitas decided to go solar, they hired a third party solar consultant, who provided them with an energy analysis that explained the brewery’s power requirements from solar. 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 that had a track record of reliability. After reviewing quotes from several possible installers, Lagunitas decided to move forward with West Coast Solar, located just a few miles away from the brewery itself.
(Editor’s note: EnergySage can play the role of vendor neutral, third party consultant in your solar shopping process at no cost to you. Register for a free account today to find out how.)
Lagunitas’ solar set-up
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 separate solar systems on the brewery’s property, each with its own 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 on 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 both cattle and sheep, who graze on grass and spent grain from the brewery. By creating an agrivoltaic solar farm – a farm that incorporates both agriculture and solar into one dynamic system – Lagunitas was really able to maximize their solar investment. 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.
What about storage?
Storage can also be a great financial investment for businesses, and Lagunitas considered storage for their property. When they initially designed their system, Lagunitas came to the conclusion that storage didn’t make sense for them economically at the time. However, Lagunitas now feels that “the price of storage with incentives has come down to a point where the economics makes more sense.” We look forward to hearing more about their storage journey in the future!
What has Lagunitas’ experience with their solar system been like so far?
In their own words, “it’s been fantastic!” Even during the COVID-19 pandemic – when they temporarily had to close and were generating more electricity than they were using – they were able to sell the excess energy back to PG&E (their utility) for a profit. Today, 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: very much a win-win situation!
Looking to install solar for your business? Start your journey with EnergySage!
Inspired to go solar at your business? EnergySage is here to help! To get started exploring your solar options, sign up for a free account on EnergySage today. We’ll work with you to understand your goals for the project and your energy usage, and walk you through an initial project 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.