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RP Siegel headshot

MillerCoors Adds Solar Power to the Brew

Words by RP Siegel

MillerCoors has been working to reduce the impact of its operations from the start. Formed six years ago as a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors, the company focuses on critical areas like water, energy consumption and emissions.

In its 2014 sustainability report, MillerCoors shows a greenhouse gas reduction of 15 percent over the previous year, and a reduction in energy consumption of 15.6 percent. Since 2009, the company has reduced the energy required to produce beer from 162 megajoules per hectoliter of beer to 123 MJ/hl. This year, it aims to reduce that number by an additional 15 percent. (For those not up on your conversions: A hectoliter is about 26 gallons, or a little less than two kegs of beer.)

The company is now a step closer to its energy goals with the announcement of a 3.2-megawatt solar array completed at its Irwindale, California, brewery.

“From heating our kettles to the packaging process, we rely on energy to brew our quality beers. Simply put, without energy there is no beer,” said Tom Long, MillerCoors CEO. “But we are acutely aware of the energy stress on this community, so we are doing our share – plus some – to decrease usage by installing this solar array. This step toward brewing more sustainably makes us a better brewer and a better neighbor to the residents of Los Angeles County.”

The project broke ground back in October. It consists of more than 10,000 solar panels, provided by SolarCity, installed across 10 acres of the brewery grounds.

Not only does the system generate electricity without producing any emissions, but it also helps reduce the load on the local grid during periods of high demand. The new MillerCoors solar array will produce enough energy to brew more than 7 million cases of beer annually. This is supplemented with a cogeneration system that was installed in 2011 that creates biogas from wastewater.  That system utilizes two GE Jenbacher engines fed from two anaerobic digesters that combine to produce an additional megawatt.

“Leveraging solar power helps ensure that we can continue brewing beer in California for years to come,” said Ben Maillette, MillerCoors Irwindale Brewery vice president. “MillerCoors has been a strong supporter of the San Gabriel Valley community for more than 50 years, and this project is the latest way we’re alleviating some of the environmental issues facing the region.”

The new solar array at the MillerCoors Irwindale Brewery is the largest solar photovoltaic system installed at any brewery in the U.S.

Solar power continues to gain momentum after adding a third of all new generation capacity last year. It is expected to grow faster than any other electricity source over the next two years and is projected to be the largest single source of electricity by 2050. The reason for all this optimism, according to a recent Bloomberg post, is “because it’s a technology, not a fuel.” As such, it can be expected to continue to become more efficient while decreasing in cost. That’s very different than fuels that tend to get more expensive as they get more scarce.

Image credit: marcantg18: Flickr Creative Commons

RP Siegel, PE, is an author, inventor and consultant. He has written for numerous publications ranging from Huffington Post to Mechanical Engineering. He and Roger Saillant co-wrote the successful eco-thriller Vapor Trails. RP, who is a regular contributor to Triple Pundit and Justmeans, sees it as his mission to help articulate and clarify the problems and challenges confronting our planet at this time, as well as the steadily emerging list of proposed solutions. His uniquely combined engineering and humanities background help to bring both global perspective and analytical detail to bear on the questions at hand.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.

RP Siegel headshotRP Siegel

RP Siegel (1952-2021), was an author and inventor who shined a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work appeared in TriplePundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering,  Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He was the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP was a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. RP passed away on September 30, 2021. We here at TriplePundit will always be grateful for his insight, wit and hard work.


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