Spanish researchers have studied the possibilities of rooftop electricity in microbreweries and found that solar energy could cut heating and cooling costs by almost 30 percent. They say that combining solar power with small breweries can result in a payback period ranging from 4.3 to 6.6 years.
Researchers from Spain’s Andalusian Research and Industrial Cooperation Association (AICIA) have investigated the use of solar energy to improve energy efficiency in two microbreweries located in Andalusia, Spain.
They analyzed an all-electric microbrewery equipped with a solar panel on the roof in all 52 provinces of Spain. The study took into account the thermal characteristics of the brewery’s main building, the heat of the tanks and the coldness of the fermenters, the air conditioning and heat pump, and the production of solar electricity.
To evaluate the financial viability of a solar power plant, the research team used two parameters: the discounted payback period (DPP) and the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). The group noted that for small and medium-sized enterprises, certain terms of business accounting, such as depreciation, residual value and corporate tax rate, can be ignored because their financial management resembles home users rather than large enterprises.
The analysis revealed that investments and electricity prices were the most important factors affecting the profitability of solar electricity. The study assumed a maximum installed power of 20 kW and a ratio of 1/2 between the total solar area and the total roof area.
“Electrical storage has not been addressed in this study, as the brewery requires connection to the grid to ensure the supply of electricity to the process, which compensates for the variability of solar production,” they explained, noting that they also assume the solar electricity system works according to the net billing system, which enables the sale of excess electricity.
A techno-economic analysis showed that solar power could help reduce the LCOHC value of a Spanish microbrewery by up to 29.7%, ranging from €0.285 ($0.31)/kWh to €0.332/kWh.
“The payback period may be suitable for the companies’ investment horizon, which ranges from 4.3 to 6.6 years,” the Spanish team said. “A very small photovoltaic system, about 1 kWp, determine the shortest repayment periods. Nevertheless, the improvement in LCOHC is negligible in most cases, with reductions ranging from -0.8% to -3.21% compared to the corresponding reference value, they noted.
They introduced a new model “Integrating Solar Energy into Small Scale Industry: Application to Microbreweries”, published recently Sustainable energy technologies and assessments.