January 17, 2008 The environmentally conscious Sierra Nevada Brewery in California is taking steps to become partially powered by the sun. A 1.3 megawatt solar system is being installed at the Chico plant in two phases and will provide 34% of the brewery’s power.

The system will be installed by Chico Electric and incorporate technology from Mitsubishi Electric. Chico Electric completed the first phase of the project in December 2007. The next phase will be finished in June 2008 after construction of a new building on the brewery’s property. In addition to the new solar electric system, the brewery has installed a 1MW fuel cell, a 500 kW solar array shade structure in its parking lot, and it also makes methane from brewery waste products, all part of an effort to use clean energy and make the brewery energy independent.

Mitsubishi Electric is providing nearly 7000 of its 185Wp high-strength, corrosion-resistant modules for the project. The modules contain no lead solder, a technology Mitsubishi Electric introduced to the United States in 2005. Instead of lead-solder coating for the cells, Mitsubishi Electric developed silver electrodes that offer superior weatherproofing and higher PV module conversion efficiency.

“Sierra Nevada Brewery is one of the most environmentally conscious companies in the industry and we are honored to be working on this project with them,” says Gina Heng, director of marketing for Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA’s Photovoltaic Division. Not only does the company boast impressive green credentials, but they make a decent beer too. For those who haven’t tried it, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is exceptionally good, and it's free from preservatives.