Birdsong Brewing Co. will add solar panels to the roof of their brewery in the Belmont neighborhood this August.
They’re the first brewery in Charlotte to make this investment toward sustainability, a concept that has always been important to Birdsong principal owner Chris Goulet and his staff. In addition to the solar panel installation, Birdsong has a bunch of other energy-saving measures which include their use of waterless urinals and on-demand water heaters.
All that costs money — including an expected $110,000 for the solar array. And luckily, Birdsong has it.
“We’ve had a crazy year,” said Goulet. “We’re more than 25 percent ahead of forecast, so we’re selling a lot more beer than we anticipated. Which is good, as long as you can keep up.”
Eventually, Goulet says he expects the system to pay itself off. It should reduce their $3,000 monthly electricity bill (which runs highest in the summer) by $1,200-$1,500.
The solar panels won’t just save Birdsong money; they’ll save the planet, too. The solar array will generate about 50 percent of the hefty 25,000 kilowatt hours of energy that Birdsong uses per month, which is the same amount of power used by about 30 homes. As Goulet sees it, the less he has to draw from the electrical grid, the better.
“Instead of drawing off the grid, energy which is potentially supplied by a coal-fired power plant or a nuclear reactor in Duke Energy-land, we’re creating our own energy here,” Goulet said. “It’s definitely a big reduction of our carbon footprint.”
Their sustainability initiatives don’t stop there. Birdsong donates their spent grain that is leftover from the brewing process and gives it away as feed to two cattle farmers in the area as an alternative to dumping this grain in a landfill. They also installed a nitrogen generator last year to reduce their use of carbon dioxide.
Goulet said he and his staff continue to make more plans to stay environmentally friendly. In the future, they plan to optimize their coolers to run based on humidity and temperature as well as switch all of their lights in their production space over to LED.