We now live in an era that scientists have dubbed the anthropocene which recognizes that humans are, by a far, the single largest influence on the planet. There is no longer any place on Earth that is unaffected by human activity and every measure of ecological health is in decline.

The US is less than 5% of the world population but is responsible for nearly 20% of the world’s energy consumption according to the US Energy Information Agency. Most of the energy Americans use is not clean energy and comes from dirty sources like coal, natural gas, and oil.

As such, Suspended Brewing has a goal of becoming a net-zero energy company. Simply put, a company becomes net zero energy when the sum of energy it consumes is equal to the amount of renewable energy it’s responsible for bringing into the world.

For our new home in Baltimore we’re exploring onsite solar PV (photo voltaic) to help power our operations. We have about 10,000 square feet (sf) of roof space available to us which could support an estimated 25kW array. We are exploring the possibility of utilizing a power purchase agreement (PPA) to fund our array since start-up money is tight.

Brewery Solar Array

In a PPA scenario a third party pays to have clean energy equipment installed on our roof but retains the rights to the renewable energy credits, the tax credits, and the equipment itself. We, in turn, agree to buy the energy which is guaranteed to beat our current rate from our utility provider.

For some context on the size of our array, take a look at the examples below borrowed from Tesla’s Powerwall webpage.

Typical Household Electrical Consumption

Typical Household Electrical Consumption Courtesy of Tesla.com

In the meantime we can still switch our electricity supplier to a clean energy producer since we’re fed electricity from a grid in an area that lets customers choose where their energy comes from. Everything in our brewery is electric with the exception of the two existing HVAC units, meaning that we are near carbon neutral, but not yet.

We will make every effort to get the HVAC units replaced with new, more efficient units, and will look into developing carbon offsets as soon as possible. We’re a very small team as have hands full with getting up and running, but have carbon neutrality as a very high priority item.

In case you’re wondering why anyone would bother to install solar onsite when the option to simply switch electricity supply to a clean supplier is available, consider the added benefits of onsite solar.

  • Ultra-violet (UV) light from the sun heavily erodes a roof. Solar panels are designed to absorb as much of this damaging light as possible.
  • While solar panels are protecting a roof from UV light (and turning it into useful clean, renewable energy!), it’s also taking the heat load off of the building, making the need to cool the building much less. In the winter time, the panel are engineered and positioned to keep snow off of them; thus, the snow that would otherwise collect on your building (or home) is no longer there, making extra work for the heating system to heat the home.
  • Finally, having solar onsite reduces the energy demand on the grid. In other words it keeps the utility company from having to expand the grid, or build supplemental plants to keep up with growing demand.

The health of our planet–and thus our species and thousands of other species–requires swift and intelligent actions to halt and mitigate that severe damages we’ve already caused. We’ll do as much as we can, as fast as we can to refine our operations and lessen our impact. We hope you’ll join us in our ecological pursuits and for a pint and some good coffee.