Solar power on tap

Monday, 02 November, 2015

Solar power on tap

Pingala, a renewable energy community group based in Sydney, is building a solar power plant on top of its local brewery in order to slash emissions and boost renewable energy in the area.

Grant funding from the City of Sydney will enable Pingala to purchase and install solar photovoltaic panels at the Young Henrys brewery site in Newtown. Electricity from the system will be used to power brewing processes, avoiding around 127 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

“Our vision is for a clean energy future where everybody can share in the benefits that come from solar,” said Pingala volunteer Jake Steele.

“This project is building a lasting relationship between Young Henrys and the individuals who choose to support this project. These local people will become vocal champions for the success of the project, for clean energy and for the local economy.

The owner of Young Henrys, Oscar McMahon, said a range of sustainable practices is already in place at the brewery, including re-usable beer ‘growlers’ for customers to bring back and refill. Around one tonne of spent grain that would otherwise end up in landfill is donated daily to local farmers to be used as feed for chickens, sheep and cattle.

“We’re very proud to be the host site for Pingala,” McMahon said.

“It’s an amazing concept for us to be reducing our carbon footprint and producing local beer from locally owned, renewable green energy in the heart of our community.”

The City of Sydney funding will allow Pingala to complete the first community solar project of its kind in a capital city while also becoming the first operating community solar cooperative in Australia. It therefore provides a great first step for locally owned solar projects, said Lord Mayor Clover Moore, with real benefits for the wider community.

“This project shows it’s technically and economically feasible for Sydneysiders to get on board with community energy,” the Lord Mayor said.

Steele added that getting the community-owned solar project up and running will help establish a model for similar projects across the city.

“We are showing by doing to inspire and encourage other community groups to set up solar systems of their own,” he said. “We believe our project will remove barriers for other clean energy projects in the city.”

Image caption: Young Henrys owner Oscar McMahon and Pingala’s Jake Steele.

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