How breweries can reduce energy costs and environmental impact

Breweries across Sussex can reduce operating costs and improve sustainability credentials by introducing energy saving and green energy technologies

The past decade has seen a tremendous growth in the number of breweries in Sussex, with small micro-breweries entering the market alongside more established businesses like Harveys and Longman Brewery.

To gain a competitive edge in a crowded market and to meet changing customer expectations, many breweries are looking to reduce their energy costs and environmental impact by installing energy efficiency and renewable energy systems.

By generating on-site clean energy through solar panels, wind turbines, or heat pumps, breweries can expect to see big savings in their long-term operating costs.

Furthermore, they are able to demonstrate a commitment to tackling the climate crisis which is an increasingly important demand from their customers.

With energy prices expected to stay high for the foreseeable future, this is an ideal opportunity for breweries to implement a modern long-term energy strategy which will deliver multiple financial and environmental benefits.

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Why your brewery should introduce a modern energy strategy

A lot of energy is involved in brewing beer.

Every stage of the process requires considerable amounts of electricity and gas, whether that is for brewing, refrigeration, packaging, or space heating. Added together, this means high energy costs for brewers, which impacts both profitability and operability.

Being able to meet a brewery’s heat and power demands with onsite renewable energy will mitigate against high energy costs and give protection against volatile international oil and gas markets. Such energy price stability will also provide greater assurance with financial forecasting and business planning, improving chances for long-term business success.

By introducing a comprehensive, modern, long-term energy strategy, your brewery can expect to enjoy numerous benefits including: 

Why solar energy is an attractive option for breweries

A brewery, even a micro-brewery, typically requires a lot of floor space, which can make heating and refrigeration expensive. However, operating a business in such a facility does present a great opportunity for introducing green energy solutions, particularly for roof-mounted solar panel systems.

Being located right on the South coast of England makes Sussex an especially excellent location for solar energy systems, as the area receives more sunlight than most of the rest of the UK.

Many breweries are located in industrial estates and business parks which make an ideal location for roof-top solar power. Not only does the large available roof space allow for a significant solar PV installation, but any excess power can potentially be sold to neighbouring businesses, creating an additional revenue stream.

Alternatively, if a brewery did not wish to sell their excess electricity to nearby buildings, they could consider introducing battery storage technologies, enabling solar energy to be stored at the point of generation for use at a later time or date when solar PV generation levels were lower.

Sussex breweries that have already installed solar power

How much will it cost for a brewery to install solar PV?

The cost for any solar power system will depend on the size of the array being installed, but it is important to note that the cost has decreased significantly in recent years.

The cost of solar panels fell by 90% between 2011 and 2020, making the switch to solar energy much more accessible and affordable for brewers than ever before.

The solar power subsidy called the Feed-In-Tariff was removed in April 2019 and has not been replaced by an alternative. However, there is instead the option for solar power system owners to sell any excess electricity to energy suppliers, which often offer a higher rate than what have been received under the Feed-In-Tariff.

Furthermore, as a result of record high energy costs, it is much more financially beneficial for solar panel owners to use their electricity instead of exporting excess to neighbours or to the grid. With average electricity prices for UK small businesses at around 19p per kilowatt, every unit of energy that can be generated from the sun for free is a saving for the business.

energy saving renewable energy sussex breweries
Breweries across Sussex and the rest of the UK are adopting energy saving and renewable energy generating practices to reduce long-term energy costs and carbon emissions. Photo by Roberta keiko Kitahara Santana on Unsplash

This is why it is so important for a brewery to take the time to properly size and spec a solar power array before going ahead with the installation. By accurately matching on-site generation with consumption, a solar panel system can perform efficiently and cost-effectively.

As solar panel arrays will continue to generate electricity for 25 years, it is clear what an excellent business investment this is for a brewery of any size.

For any breweries that decide to take advantage of BHESCo’s ‘Pay As You Save’ financing, the upfront cost would be covered by BHESCo who would also design and project manage the install of the system.

Becoming an eco-conscious brewery

By taking active steps to reduce emissions from your brewing process, you are reducing the climate impact of your business, demonstrating social and environmental leadership. Positive action on reducing carbon emissions is increasingly appealing to investors, customers and employees and can attract new funds, revenue and staff to your business.

Tackling climate change is a seen as a top priority by more people now than at any other time in history, especially in Sussex. In response to the climate emergency, customers expect that the beers they buy to come from sustainable businesses which actively engage in minimising the environmental impact of their operations.

Younger generations in particular have demonstrated a willingness to support businesses who have shown transparency and ambition as regards a carbon emissions reduction strategy, even when that means paying a little extra.

Can a brewery that leases a site still install renewable energy?

In a situation where a business leases their premises from a commercial landlord it is still possible to install a solar PV array as long as the landlord is onboard with the project.

Under BHESCo’s ‘Pay As You Save’ financing for example, the renewable energy system is owned by BHESCo for the duration of the lease period. The solar electricity generated by the panels is sold to the tenant at a price that is typically much cheaper than they would pay to a commercial energy supplier. This is called a ‘Power Purchase Agreement’ (PPA) and is one of the most common ways for financing new solar PV projects.

If the current tenant moves out of the property, then the replacement tenant enters into the PPA and becomes the new customer of the electricity that is supplied by the BHESCo solar array.

Why it is important to get an energy survey for your brewery

Before introducing new energy saving or energy generating measures it is first absolutely vital to gain a good understanding of the existing energy profile of the brewery.

An energy assessment will quickly identify where heat and power are being wasted and recommend the most cost-effective improvements that will deliver maximum impact.

Included as part of an energy survey is a strategy for improving the energy efficiency of the premises through insulation, energy saving technologies, and the introduction of smart energy management software. This is in addition to assessing the potential for on-site renewable energy generation.

By taking the time to measure and understand the energy performance of your property you can ensure that you do not waste money by investing in products and technologies that will not deliver the savings you expect.

Given the typically large size of their premises breweries often make excellent candidates for rooftop solar PV. The renewable electricity that is generated can be used on-site, stored in a battery or exported to other businesses or to an energy supplier. Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

Why energy saving and energy efficiency are key to the success of your brewery

There is no point in spending loads of money installing an impressive solar power array on the roof of your brewery if most of the electricity that is generated from the system is wasted.

Identifying opportunities for reducing heat loss and energy waste should be a fundamental part of any long-term energy strategy.

A reduction in the amount of heat and power consumed by your brewery will translate as a direct saving in monthly overheads, freeing up more money for other business investments such as staffing and equipment.

Furthermore, reducing the volume of energy consumed in the brewing process makes it easier for a brewery to meet a higher percentage of their heat and power demand with their own on-site renewable power. 

Typical energy performance improvements can include:

Switching from traditional incandescent or halogen lighting to energy efficient ‘Light Emitting Diodes’ (LEDs) can reduce electricity consumption by up to 90%.

Adding motion sensors for lesser used rooms or corridors can further help to drive down energy bills.

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In many instances there is no need for lights to be left on continually. Adding motion sensors to turn lights on automatically whenever an employee is in the vicinity will cut down on waste and can achieve savings of up to 30%.

It is also advisable to install remote heating and lighting controls, enabling specific heat and light levels to be set for different zones of the building and in relation to time and seasonal variations.

Integrating remote monitoring and controls will enable facilities managers to continually gather and analyse data about a building’s energy use, adjusting heat and lighting settings in reaction to the information available, and creating a business case for the adoption of new measures where necessary.

Chances are that your heating consumption makes up the lion’s share of your monthly energy bill.

Generating your heat more efficiently can greatly reduce your bills and dramatically improve comfort in your property..

Depending on the the type of building in question and the aspect of the roof you may be able to start generating your own heat using rooftop solar thermal collectors or a ground source heat pump.

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The cost of heating in the UK can be very expensive.

If you are losing heat through draughty windows and doors then your property will not only be uncomfortably cold but you will be wasting huge amounts of money as well.

Improving your windows and doors will make your property feel much warmer in the winter and much cooler in the summer.

Furthermore, as well as helping you cut down on energy bills, new windows and doors will reduce levels of noise pollution from outside.

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Any floor that is above an unheated space (like a garage or a basement) can easily lose a great deal of heat to the colder area beneath.

In some properties heat can be lost throught the ground floor as well, so it is important that floors are properly insulated wherever possible.

The type of floor in your property (concrete or suspended timber) will determine which solution is most appropriate.

Hot air rises, which means that up to a quarter of heat loss in can occur if your roof is not properly insulated.

Fortunately, topping up your loft insulation is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make a big difference to the energy efficiency of your property.

Increasing the depth of your loft insulation to the recommended minimum of 270mm will immediately improve comfort and wellbeing while helping you to dramatically reduce energy bills.

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The majority of heat loss in the home occurs through the walls – in some cases heat loss though uninsulated walls can account for up to half of all heat loss in a property.

There are a variety of solutions for improving the energy efficiency of your walls which can depend on the age and the type of the property.

Possible solutions could include Cavity Wall Insulation, External Wall Insulation, or Internal Wall Insulation.

If neccessary our energy assessment can include a boroscope survey to identify the current state of the walls and what insulation there may or may not be already.

Making physical improvements to the fabric of your property will deliver immediate and tangible results for your warmth and wellbeing, but you can also make a big impact on your bills by using your energy more wisely.

This could include the use of power-down plugs for equipment which is not in use overnight, adding motion sensor detectors for lighting areas such as staircases and corridors, or installing Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) in order to regulate the temperature of individual rooms.

Our detailed energy audit will dive deep into all areas of your organisation’s energy use, helping you to develop an ecologically minded culture that achieves financial and carbon emission savings across all areas of your organisation.

For properties that have solar panels installed the addition of battery storage technology enables owners to store electricity for use at a time of their convenience.

Battery storage can also enable users to take advantage of ‘Time Of Use’ Tariffs, whereby a battery can be charged during times when energy prices are low and discharged at when prices are high. Alternatively, they may choose to sell any surplus electricity back to the electricity grid at times of high demand.

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Project Contact Form

If you are interested in working with BHESCo to revolutionise the way that your brewery sources it’s heat and power then please provide your details in the form below and a member of our Projects Team will get back to you to discuss next steps.