Kona Brewing Company Taps The Sun To Power Its Brewing Operations In Hawai’i

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Hawai’i’s own Kona Brewing Company on the Big Island is tapping into the power of the sun to allow people to tap into its beer without guilt. The company is installing a new solar-plus-storage installation with the help of EnSync Energy and Holu Energy that will allow the company to crank out nearly 7,000 cans of ‘Liquid Aloha’ per hour.

I have to admit on the front end of this piece that I am completely biased when it comes to Kona Brewing Company – my wife and I were married on the Big Island of Hawai’i and had our first dinner out with family and friends at the Kona Brewing Company restaurant and brewery back in 2008. I’m not a huge beer drinker but I absolutely love the look and feel of the place. Having said that, I have no financial ties to KBC nor am I otherwise affiliated with it.

The new installation will be funded up front by EnSync Energy and its subsidiary Holu Energy, with Kona Brewing Company signing a 20-year power purchase agreement that commits it to purchasing all of the power produced by the solar-plus-storage system at the new KBC brewery that’s currently under construction in Kailua-Kona.

“Since it formed over 20 years ago, Kona Brewing has been committed to making locally brewed beers in an environmentally responsible way,” said Julia Person, sustainability manager of Kona Brewing. “By partnering with Holu, we are working with another Hawaiian business to reduce our imported fossil fuel use and create on-site solar energy that helps the state meet its renewable energy goals. This partnership demonstrates how we embrace innovation to maintain our commitment to the ‘Aloha spirit’ and the larger Hawaiian community.”

The new installation pairs 336 kilowatts of roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and an EnSync DER SuperModule that includes a 122 kilowatt-hour energy storage system to store power for the nighttime hours. Sitting between the two is a Matrix™ Energy Management system, which uses its proprietary DER FlexTM ‘Internet of Energy’ technology to keep energy flowing to the brewery for the lowest cost possible. This allows the brewery to use power directly from the solar panels, from the storage or from the grid, depending on what the most cost effective option is at the time.

Even with such a massive rooftop solar PV system, it is only expected to meet about 25% of the brewery’s electricity needs. “This installation offers Kona Brewing a fully integrated resource to meet its dual goals of using clean energy and reducing energy costs, which in Hawaii are the highest in the nation,” said Ted Peck, president of Holu Energy. “Integrating energy storage with PV will help the brewery reduce expensive peak demand charges, add resiliency and provide grid services, which benefits both the local utility and Kona Brewing.”

These hybrid solar-plus-storage intelligent controllers also allow customers to participate in increasingly prevalent demand response programs that allow utility customers to earn money by reducing their electricity demand in response to signals from the grid. In this case, Kona Brewing Company can pull from its stationary energy storage instead of pulling from the grid to reduce the strain on the grid, earning some cash at the same time.

The new brewery is currently being built, with the full solar-plus-storage system expected to come online in early 2019.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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