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Tesla helps Sierra Nevada Brewing make 'green' beer

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Thanks to 1 megawatt hour of batteries and a sea of solar panels

Photo: Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is using a bunch of Tesla batteries, along with solar power and a microturbine generator, to help make beer brewing more environmentally friendly at its Chico, California facility.

The company has installed a 1MWh Tesla Powerpack battery system, taking power from an existing 10,751-panel, two-megawatt solar installation — the largest owned by any US brewery — and a two megawatt microturbine. In all, the setup allows Sierra Nevada to offset around 20 percent of its yearly electricity use.

In addition to making cars (and the batteries for cars), Tesla also builds stationary power products for utilities, homes, and commercial applications. The Powerpacks are battery systems designed for utilities and businesses. The Powerwall is the residential version, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes energy storage could have a “super-exponential growth rate" well in excess of the growth in the car business. Both Powerwalls and Powerpacks are assembled at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

The beer-brewing process uses a lot of electricity, heating and cooling batches of water and beer over several weeks of production. Big industrial operations like Sierra Nevada pay for electricity both on overall use as well as peak usage over the course of a month — and anything companies can do to reduce that peak use can result in significant cost savings.

Tesla Powerpacks installed at the Sierra Nevada Brewing facility.
Photo: Sierra Nevada

The Tesla Powerpack system that Sierra Nevada installed can output up to 500 kilowatts of power, allowing the brewery to shave significant amounts off its peak usage during the beer-making process. Tesla’s software allows its batteries to charge when demand is low, then discharge when demand at the brewery is beginning to spike. Tesla says the software does not require any connection to Sierra Nevada’s systems, instead learning demand trends and adapting as necessary.

Sierra Nevada isn’t the only brewery to install Tesla’s power storage systems. Tesla tells The Verge that the Maui Brewing Company in Hawaii is installing Powerpacks to store solar-generated electricity for use overnight, and most of the time the facility will be able to generate all its own power.

Other Tesla power storage installations include a 20 megawatt / 80MWh Powerpack system being installed in Ontario, California for California Edison, and another solar / battery system is powering the entire island of Ta’u in American Samoa.