28 November 2016



Top 50 Solar Beer Breweries (updated)

Author: Tom van der Linden

View the latest update from 2019, extended to a full Top 100!

(this November 2016 update featured the crowning of a new #1 in the charts!)

Though still an artisinal process in many cases, beer brewing is no longer a fully manual process and a lot of high-tech industrial machinery have allowed breweries to scale up, professionalize and standardize the precise production of delicious recipes. Of course, this machinery demands a lot of power. 'Greening up' this power demand is very much on the agenda of many beer brewers in the world, and not just for efficiency reasons. The international beer-market is a highly advertisement-driven market, in which consumers are very aware of who the main players are, and where consumers do develop attachment and predilections for certain brands. 

Many brewers are switching to solar, from the small microbreweries with a couple of panels slammed onto the roof, to the brewing giants with industrial-size breweries with roofs covered with solar modules. Many of them are also investing in solar thermal heating, biofuels, isolation, wind power and many other ways of cleaning up their act, but for this overview we focused on those who have invested in solar (PV) systems to cut down on energy costs and build more sustainable companies and brands. 

The top 50 overview is largely dominated by breweries from the US. Though Europeans like to claim to be sovereign when it comes to brewing beer, the Americans have claimed an important position, especially on the 'craft beer' scene. The number of American breweries is growing aggressively, with a new one opening just about every day. After a quick spike in the number of breweries following prohibition in the 20s and 30s, the number of breweries slowly declined to a low point of 89 in the late 70s. From the 90s on, the number of breweries has been rising explosively, now counting over 4,000 across the US, the highest numbers since the 1870s (though the scale can not be compared of course). Some of the giants in the American scene have taken to solar energy to help power their big facilities, like MillerCoors, the number 2 in this overview, who have very recently revealed a 3.2MW solar system to power their Irwindale brewery in California; and Anheuser-Busch, who have added a 530 kW system to their Newark brewery in New Jersey.

Most of the other American breweries can all be considered 'craft breweries'. Sierra Nevada ranks amongst the largest of them, both in production of beer and production of solar power. Both their Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina breweries feature solar systems of resp. 2.6MW and 650 kW in size, claiming the #3 and #10 positions in this overview. Combined, they have even more solar capacity than #2 MillerCoors and #1 Heineken (the individual Massafra plant). Most of the other entries in the list are greenminded micro-breweries from across the US. Many breweries hail from the sunshine state of California, but they're also located in "less sunny" states like Montana, Michigan or Wisconsin. In some cases, these breweries can even count on state-support to go solar, like Short's Brewery in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, who received a $35k federal grant for their PV project. 

Amongst these small breweries, the Anderson Valley Brewing Company from California (actively branding themselves as 'solar powered brewery' on their bottle caps, like the one above) and Left Hand Brewing Company from Colorado have been industry pioneers, having solar PV systems installed as early as 2006. Maybe that's what's been making their beers so particularly tasty (this writer specifically recommends Left Hand's delicious 'Black Jack Porter' and Anderson Valley's explosive 'Heelch O'Hops')

Though the application of solar (PV) energy for beer brewing seems to primarily be an American affair, there's one odd European duck in the list, actually dominating most of the top 10: iconic Dutch beer brewer Heineken. In partnership with fellow-Dutch solar installer SolarAccess, Heineken has outfitted five of their large European breweries with big solar rooftop systems and recently added another installation to the Tiger brewery in Singapore. Initially, their five European plants were all about 1MW in size, while their latest Singaporean addition amounted to 2,196MW. In November 2016, however, Heineken seriously upgraded the rooftop solar project on their Massafra brewery in Italy, which now sports 13,000 solar panels. With a total capacity of 3.3MW, this is the largest solar PV project installed on a beer brewery, worldwide.

Combined, these 6 plants amount to a 'portfolio' of over 9.3MW of solar capacity. Budweiser may claim to be "The King of Beers", but Heineken may rightfully claim the title of "The King of Solar Beers". Especially in the case of their Dutch plant, Heineken has grasped the opportunity to use the green move in their marketing favour. The 'Wieckse Witte' wheat beer that's brewed in the now completely solar energy powered plant is actively promoted as 'sunny beer', and commercials encourages consumers to "toast the sunny life". Recently, Heineken also launched a global "Brewed by the Sun" campaign, highlighting the iconic beer brewer's sustainability efforts across the globe.

But there's nothing but love in the "competition". Americans apparently still love Dutch beer, accounting for 37% of Dutch beer exports in 2014. Speaking of those export statistics: the 2014 data shows that only one country exported more beer than the Netherlands, which was Mexico. Yet despite excellent solar irradiation and a blooming solar market, there's not a Mexican brewery to be found in this overview. Unimaginable, since the sun and Corona make such excellent partners. Still much terrain to win on the solar-beer market and many brewery-roofs to cover with shiny solar panels!

Curious what the full list looks like? Scroll down to find the top 10 overview and a table of the full top 50 at the bottom.

#1 - Heineken Brewery in Massafra, Italy

Capacity: 3.3 MW
Size: 13,000 panels / 51,017 square meters
Installed in: 2012 (2.3MW upgrade in 2016)
Installer: SolarAccess
Generation: 4.42 GWh / year
Coverage: 18% of brewery's needs

#2 - MillerCoors brewery in Irwindale, California (USA)

Capacity: 3.2 MW
Size: >10,000 panels, 10 acres
Installed in: 2015
Installer: SolarCity

#3 - Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California (USA)

Capacity: 2.6 MW
Size: 10,751 panels
Installed in: 2011
Installer: Mitsubishi Electric
Coverage: 20% of company's energy needs

#4 - Heineken's Tiger Brewery in Singapore

Capacity: 2.196 MW
Size: 8,038 panels
Installed in: 2016
Installer: REC Solar
Generation: 2,300,000 kWh / year

Under Construction - Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, California (USA)

Capacity: 2.1 MW
Size: 6,000 panels
Installed in: Under Construction
Installer: Westcoast Solar Energy
Coverage: 50% of company's needs

#5 - Heineken Brewery in Alken-Maes, Belgium

Capacity: 1.463 MW
Installed in: 2011
Installer: SolarAccess
Coverage: 25% of company's energy needs

#6 - Namibia Breweries Limited in Windhoek (Namibia)

Capacity: 1.1 MW
Size: 4,200 panels (6,400 square meters)
Installed in: 2013
Installer: DHYBRID Power Systems
Coverage: 34% of company's energy needs

#7 - Heineken Brewery in Tadcaster (North Yorkshire), UK

Capacity: 1.02 MW
Size: 4,000 panels
Installed in: 2014
Installer: SolarAccess
Generation: 876,000 kWh / year
Coverage: 5% of company's energy needs

#8 - Heineken Brewery in Bergamo, Italy

Capacity: 1 MW
Size: 3,948 panels
Installed in: 2012
Installer: SolarAccess
Generation: 1.1 GWh / year

#9 - Heineken Brewery in s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Capacity: 908 kW
Size: 3,632 panels
Installed in: 2013
Installer: SolarAccess
Generation: 855,000 kWh / year

#10 - Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River, North Carolina (USA)

Capacity: 710 kW
Size: 2,200 panels (2 acres)
Installed in: 2014
Installer: Kyocera

And without further ado, here's the full Top 50 overview:

Top 50 Solar Beer Breweries


Rank Company Name Size Brewery Location # Panels Year Installed Developer Energy generation Coverage
1 Heineken 3.3 MW Massafra, Italy 13,000 2012 (upgrade 2016) SolarAccess 4.42 GWh / year 18% of company's needs
2 MillerCoors 3.2 MW Irwindale, California, USA > 10.000 2015 Solarcity
3 Sierra Nevada 2.6 MW Chico, California, USA 10,751 2011 Mitsubishi Electric 20% of company's needs
4 Heineken (Tiger) 2.196 MW Singapore, Singapore 8,038 2016 REC Solar 2,300,000 kWh / year
- Lagunitas Brewing Co. 2.1 MW Petaluma, California, USA 6,000 to be completed Westcoast Solar Energy 50% of company's needs
5 Heineken 1.463 MW Alken-Maes, Belgium 2011 SolarAccess 25% of company's needs
6 Namibia Breweries Limited 1.1 MW Windhoek, Namibia 4,200 2013 DHYBRID Power Systems 34% of company's needs
7 Heineken 1.02 MW Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, UK 4,000 2014 SolarAccess 876000 kWh / year 5% of company's needs
8 Heineken 1 MW Bergamo, Italy 3,984 2012 SolarAccess 1.1 GWh / year
9 Heineken (Wieckse Witte) 908 kW s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands 3,632 2013 SolarAccess 855000 kWh / year
10 Sierra Nevada 710 kW Mills River, North Carolina, USA 2,200 2014 Kyocera
11 Duvel Moortgat 620 kW Puurs, Belgium 2012 SolarAccess
12 Anheuser-Busch 530 kW Newark, New Jersey, USA 3,000 2014 Orion Energy Systems 525000 kWh / year 5% of company's needs
13 Highland Brewing Company 324 kW Asheville, North Carolina, USA 1,045 2015 Ashburn Builders
14 Stone Brewery 312 kW Escondido, California, USA 1,561 2008 Borrego Solar 514,800 kWh / year
15 New Belgium Brewing Company 296 kW Fort Collins, Colorado, USA 870 2010 Namaste Solar 264,000 kWh / year 3% of company's needs
16 Kona Brewing Company 229 kW Kona, Hawaii, USA 880 2010 Sunetric 60% of company's needs
17 Bear Republic Brewery 166.8 kW Cloverdale, California, USA 2014 North State Solar Energy 43% of company's needs
18 SweetWater Brewing 157 kW Atlanta, Georgia, USA 750 2012 -
19 St Austell Brewery 150 kW Cornwall, UK 600 2013 ZLC Energy 75% of company's needs
20 Flying Fish Brewing Company 129 kW Somerdale, NJ, USA 463 2011 150000 kWh / year
21 Anderson Valley Brewing Company 125 kW Boonville, California, USA 2006 - 40% of company's needs
22 Pizza Port Brewing Company 117 kW Carlsbad, California, USA 2013 Sullivan Solar Power
23 Maui Brewing Company 101 kW Maui, Hawaii, USA 2013 90-95% of company's needs
24 Ale Asylum 100 kW Madison, Wisconsin, USA 480 2015 150,000 kWh/year 20% of company's needs
25 Jackie O's Brewery 94 kW Athens, Ohio, USA 298 2015 Third Sun Solar 72% of company's needs
26 North Coast Brewing 92.2 kW Fort Bragg, California, USA 282 2013 Sunlight Electric
27 Abita Brewing Company 85 kW New Orleans, Louisiana, USA 340 2013 South Coast Solar 10% of company's needs
28 Odell Brewery 76.8 kW Fort Collins, Colorado, USA 2010 5% of company's needs
29 Atlas Brew Works 67.5 kW Washington D.C., USA 2015 Solar Solution
30 Alamo Beer Co 64 kW San Antonio. Texas, USA 256 2015 One80 Solar
31 Brewery Vivant 54 kW Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA 192 2016 Renovo Energy
32 Two Goats Brewing 50.7 kW Hector, New York, USA 2015 Renovus Solar
33 Bright Brewery 50 kW Bright, Victoria, Australia 192 2016 Living Energy Solutions
34 Maine Beer Co. 50 kW Freeport, Maine, USA 2015 50% of company's needs
35 Fegley's Brewworks 42 kW Allentown, Philadelphia, USA 2007
36 Dark Horse Brewing Co. 40 kW Marshall, Michigan, USA 140 2014 Patriot Solar, CBSI
37 Short's Brewing Co. 40 kW Elk Rapids, Michigan, USA 2015 Renovo Energy, CBSI, 7-9% of company's needs
38 Worthy Brewing 34 kW Bend, Oregon, USA 117 2012 Sunlight Solar
39 Hanlons Brewery 30 kW Devon. UK 2015 SunGift
40 Uinta Brewing 30 kW Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 126 2011 15% of company's needs
41 Legal Remedy Brewing Co. 30kW Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA 2016 35% of company´s needs
42 Discretion Brewery 29 kW Soquel, California, USA 2014 Allterra Solar
43 Innovation Brewing 28.5 kW Sylva, North Carolina, USA 100 2015
44 Schlafy Bottleworks 25 kW St. Louis, Missouri, USA 108 2012 Microgrid Energy
45 Butte Brewing Company 20 kW Butte, Montana, USA 80 2012
46 Central Waters Brewing 20 kW Amherst, Wisconsin, USA 2015
47 New Belgium Brewing Company 19 kW West Asheville, North Carolina, USA 66 2016
48 Arbor Brewing Company 18 kW Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA 2012
49 Church End Brewery 15 kW Nuneaton, UK 2014 TGE Group
50 Bitter Root Brewing 10 kW Hamilton, Montana, USA 40 2014

Please note that this overview was made using public internet sources. We do not claim this to be a complete and fully accurate overview and are very much open to feedback and suggestions on improvements. 
We do not hold rights to any of the data or images. 

Image Credits:
Header image: Odell Brewery - Fort Collins, Colorado
"Solar Powered Brewery" bottle cap image: Anderson Valley Brewing Company - Boonville, California
Heineken bottle cap: collage of internet images

Data Sources:,d.ZGU,d.ZGU


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