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Michigan Breweries Going Solar

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

mattroush Matt Roush
Matt Roush joined WWJ Newsradio 950 in September 2001 to spearhead the...
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YPSILANTI — Barley, hops and yeast are powered by the sun.

Increasingly, so are the breweries that turn those ingredients into beer.

Southeast Michigan brewery owners Matt and Rene Greff are breaking new ground for Michigan breweries as solar installations at their two breweries come on line this summer.

Arbor Brewing Co. became Michigan’s first solar brewery when it flipped the switch on a new system comprised of a 2.4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array, 300 solar thermal collector tubes and a high-efficiency tankless water heater system to supplement the heat from the collector tubes when necessary.

These big ticket investments were combined with smaller improvements like switching to CFL and LED lighting and installing low-flow sprayers and occupancy sensors.

The project grew out of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s Energy Conservation Grant Program, which provided free energy audits and 50 percent project rebates up to $20,000 to downtown businesses that implemented audit recommendations to become more energy efficient.

ABC owner Matt Greff worked with Ann Arbor DDA Energy Programs Director David Konkle as well as a consulting team from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment, led by Jarett Diamond.

Together they were able to identify a number of financial resources and incentives to help offset the installation cost of the system including the $20,000 grant from the DDA, a $10,000 interest-free loan from the city, a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government, and various incentives from DTE Energy.

The couple’s Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti is also nearing completion on its own $250,000 Green Brewery Project which includes solar-thermal, photovoltaic, and geo-thermal technologies along with other improvements like new windows and awnings and energy-efficient chiller equipment.

The rooftop clean energy system powering the brewery provided by Power Panel Inc., has a total system rating of 18 kW electric, and 64.8 kW thermal. It is believed to be the largest-capacity solar installation of any craft brewery east of Colorado and is set to go online later this month.

According to Greff, the projects, which took over two years to complete, were worth every bit of effort that went into them.

“It feels really good to know that we were able to make changes that are as good for the environment as they are for the bottom line,” Greff said. “We couldn’t have done it without the expertise and assistance we received from our many partners and we hope to be able to assist other small businesses interested in improving their energy efficiency.”

Corner Brewery will be hosting a ribbon-cutting reception to celebrate the launch of the new system on Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. at 720 Norris St, Ypsilanti.

The event is free and open to the public.

Power Panel Inc. is a Detroit manufacturer of a solar panel capable of capturing both heat and electricity from the sun using technologies adapted from the automotive industry. Power Panel is ideal for use as clean heat and power renewable energy source, is simple in design, easy to install, light weight and robust. Power Panel is different from pure PV solar technology as the integration of thermal energy capture results in up to 4 times the amount of energy collection while active cooling of the PV cells further increases efficiency.

Power Panel is a member of the Energy Innovation Business Council, www.mieibc.org.

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