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Sierra Nevada Increases Solar Energy Production; U.K. Brewers Lighten Their Bottles

While Sierra Nevada in the United States is adding to its clean energy resources, brewers in the United Kingdom are making their bottles lighter to reduce carbon emissions and put less glass in the waste stream.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is on its way to install a 1.4-megawatt solar array at its Chico, Calif., brewery. The company has chosen Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA to provide 6,800 solar panels, which will be installed by Chico Electric.

The project is set to be complete this year and provide 34 percent of the brewery's power.

The installation is one of many eco-friendly steps Sierra Nevada has taken. The brewery has added four 250-kilowatt fuel cell power units, and the solar array is online, the two systems will provide the majority of the brewery's power as well as flow surplus energy to the state’s power grid.

"With the addition of our solar panels, we are approaching our goal of providing 100 percent of our energy needs with clean on-site alternative energy generation," said Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada founder and CEO.

The company also has a 500-kilowatt solar array shade structure in its parking lot, generates methane for use by its fuel cells from its wastewater treatment plant, recycles much of the materials used in the facility, recovers waste steam and energy, and provides spent grain, hops and yeast as feed for dairy and beef cows.

In the United Kingdom, major brewers have introduced lighter bottlers to reduce the amount of glass used in packaging.

SABMiller, Scottish & Newcastle, Marston's, Wells & Young's and Frederic Robinson's have adopted bottles for various brands that are eight percent to 24 percent lighter that previous bottles.

The changes were made through the GlassRite initiative spearheaded by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Glass Technology Services. The GlassRite Beer, Cider and Spirits initiative is one of WRAP’s projects meant to both reduce the amount of materials entering the waste stream and also lessen carbon emissions. The projects provide technical advice, consumer perception research and commercial trials on lightweight bottles.

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