Bear Republic Brewing Goes Local for Solar
What happens when microbrews meet microinverters? You get Bear Republic Brewing Co., an award-winning beermaker that doesn’t have to travel far for agricultural ingredients or solar technology.
Supporting Local Solar ®
The latest year-round bottled beer from Bear Republic Brewing Co. , Grand-Am American Pale Ale, is made with hops from Washington State and processed in fermenters from Northern California, manufactured not far from the brewery itself. So it’s only fitting that the brewery is switching to an American source of energy using Enphase Microinverters assembled in Milpitas, California.
In June of 2014, North State Solar Energy completed a 30.2 kilowatt Enphase system on the roof of Bear Republic’s Cloverdale facility. A little later the same year, the brewery will add a second system, a 136.6 kilowatt solar canopy, also with Enphase’s Assembled in America Microinverters. The solar project is part of a sustainability push for Bear Republic, which is also installing technology to treat wastewater from the brewing process while capturing electricity and heat that goes straight back into the production process.
In keeping with a tradition of community leadership by craft brewers, Bear Republic has continually looked at investing in solar energy over the past five or ten years, says master brewer Peter Kruger. “The CEO of our company says while we always want to do the right thing; it doesn’t say Bear Republic, not-for-profit, on the letterhead. The economics are finally there,” says Kruger, who serves on the sustainability subcommittee of the national Brewers Association.
As a champion for American business, Bear Republic found a strong partner in North State Solar Energy, an installer of residential, commercial and agriculture systems. North State Solar routinely recommends US-manufactured solar components. In June, it joined an exclusive American Pride partnership to supply Enphase’s new Assembled in America microinverters within key counties throughout Northern and Central California.
North State Solar president Mike Houar says Bear Republic could have found lower-priced systems by using foreign components, but like many customers, it preferred the ones with the American flag. “Our commitment and the commitment of our customers to American manufacturing, it’s pretty deep. It didn’t happen just yesterday,” Houar says.
One of the reasons North State Solar has been successful at bidding Enphase systems is its track record for reliability. Using the Enphase M215 Microinverter, Houar says his company has installed over 35,000 units. Only nine of them have needed replacement. With the M250 Microinverter, North State Solar has installed almost 4,000 units and just one needed replacement. “We’re ecstatic with those products,” Houar says.
Kruger says Bear Republic favored Enphase microinverter systems over string inverters because the system design increases overall energy output, and if one part of the system suffers a drop in production, there’s no effect on other parts of the system.