Categorized | Business, Featured

Kona Brewing Company blesses solar project

Sunetric president Sean Mullen explains the inverter machine during the official blessing. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Kona Brewing Company is putting the sun’s power to good use. A 228 kW solar energy generating system designed and installed by Sunetric is now fully operational and charging the brewery and pub.

“This has been a 10-year vision,” said Mattson Davis, Kona Brewing Company’s President and CEO. “We have an obligation to help the Big Island achieve energy sustainability.”

Davis said the 990 solar panels, which are affixed to the roof of an adjacent building, are providing more than 60 percent of the power needs of the brewery and the restaurant.

Kumu Keala Ching

“It was an exciting day when we flipped the switch,” he said. “We are the first brewery in Hawaii making sun-powered beer, and our system is among the largest in the craft beer industry nationwide. It’s a great feeling!”

Davis said it was also a great feeling opening September’s utility bill, which dropped to $4,000 from $10,000 the month before.

Earlier this week, the brewery hosted a private blessing of the system with partner solar energy contractor Sunetric. Kumu Keala Ching provided the blessing, and guests enjoyed tastes of one of Kona Brewing Company’s first batches of solar-energy-produced beer, Suncharged Pale Ale.

The project, a roof-mounted grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) system made up of 990 Trina Solar 230-watt modules, produces an average of 922 kWh of electricity each day.

At the entrance to the restaurant, Kona Brewing Company guests can check out a real-time monitor that shows how much energy the solar system is generating.

At the current commercial electricity rate, the system will offset more than $100,000 each year.

“Kona Brewing Company should be proud of the environmental impact it is making in our islands,” Sunetric founding partner Sean Mullen said. “It was our first restaurant and it was a challenge. Thanks to forward-thinking organizations such as this, Hawaii will reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuel.”

PV solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source. It does not pollute or consume natural resources.

Sunetric estimates that during the next 30 years Kona Brewing Company’s PV system will prevent approximately 7,921 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere annually, or about 5 million car trips to a local grocery store.

The solar array offsets 16,830 barrels of oil that would otherwise be burned to make electricity during the next 30 years.

“There are not very many parts to it. The thing doing most of the work is the inverter,” Mullen said. “It’s a very, very smart machine.”

Kona Brewing Company was started in the spring of 1994 by a father-and-son team that had a dream to create fresh, local island brews made with spirit, passion and quality.

It is a Hawaii-born and Hawaii-based craft brewery that prides itself on brewing the freshest beer of exceptional quality, closest to market. This helps to minimize its carbon footprint by reducing shipping of raw materials, finished beer and wasteful packaging materials.

It has grown into Hawaii’s largest brewery, has three restaurant sites across the state and beer distribution reaching 28 states and Japan. It is the 13th largest craft brewing company in the country, posting 19.8 percent year-over-year growth in 2009.

Founded in 2004 by Sean and Beth-Ann Mullen, Sunetric specializes in photovoltaic system design and installation, including the state’s largest photovoltaic systems at Kona Commons shopping center on the Big Island and Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai. Hawaii’s solar authority, Sunetric leads the way in solar energy education, installation, and investment in our future.

— Find out more:
Kona Brewing Company: 808-334-BREW,

From left: Rich Tucciarone, brewmaster; Cameron Healy, Kona Brewing Co. founder; Alex Tiller, Sunetric CEO; Sean Mullen, Sunetric president; Wally Lau, county deputy managing director; Mattson Davis, Kona Brewing Co. president; Mayor Billy Kenoi; Terry Michaelson, Craft Brewers Alliance CEO; and Kumu Keala Ching. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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