Newtown hipsters get a taste of solar-powered beer from community solar array

Solar-powered beer from community owned solar array: renewable energy to local communities.Inset attribution: Young Henrys Brewery

Solar-powered beer is the latest trend among hipsters in the Sydney suburb of Newtown.

Punters are starting to see the benefit of solar power, with boutique beer producer Young Henrys hosting a community solar array in Newtown which is owned by members of the Newtown community.

The brewery’s 29.9kW solar array was financed by 54 locals, who will get 5-8 per cent return on their investment, according to a report in the Guardian.

Brewery co-founder Oscar McMahon believes solar-powered beer tastes better than coal-powered, and the array on the roof is also a way of keeping in touch with the community.

“We are buying our power from people that have invested in an idea and infrastructure within our business,” he says.

Solar beer from community solar array

Image attribution: Public Domain

The community solar array: an emerging trend

A trend towards community solar array ownership could contribute to Australia’s continued enthusiasm for renewable energy from small to big scale operations.

Following on from a not so impressive year for renewable energy in 2014, the Clean Energy Australia 2015 report showed sales of rooftop solar and solar hot water were largely unaffected by the RET review, and solar power passed 5GW of capacity early in 2016.

State feed-in tariff rates have continued to reduce, leading to lower but more stable and sustainable sales figures, the report stated, adding:

“The commercial solar sector continues to show steady growth, and as more major brands install solar this inspires smaller players to consider the technology as a cost-saving measure to improve their bottom line.”

Energy storage technology is improving in efficiency and Clean Energy Australia notes that storage technology “will transform the way Australians use and think about energy, once it becomes affordable for average Australians.”

After ten years the Young Henrys brewery solar array will be donated to the brewery, which will continue to use it to generate solar energy-powered beer into the future.

The signs are positive that the state is waking up to the potential of solar arrays: NSW has been slow in the transition to solar energy, last year beating only Tasmania in a ranking report from the Climate Council.