Brewery turns to the sun to make beer

23 June 2011

Bradfield Brewery is planning to spend more than £100,000 turning to the sun to make its beer.
The brewery at High Bradfield, best known for its Farmer brand of beers, has applied for planning permission to fit 158 solar panels on the roof of its brewery and a storage building.
The photovoltaic panels would generate 30,000 Kilowatts of electricity a year – enough to power about half a dozen family homes.
The system, which will be installed by Hoylandswaine solar panel company Norcroft Electrical, should add up to £11,000 per year in saved electricity bills and Feed In Tariff from the National Grid.
Richard Gill, from the brewery, said: “It fits in with our ethos of using the best and most natural way of doing things.
“We already use water from our own borehole on the farm to make the perfect pint. Now we can harness the sun to help in that process.”
Bradfield Brewery, which is based at Watt House Farm, has brewed more than five million pints since the first beer, Farmers Bitter, was produced in 2005. The farm had been in the family for three generations, but falling farming income led to the decision to set up the ten-barrel micro-brewery. That is now increasing to 40 barrels – an expansion that led to the decision to turn to solar power.
The brewery produces a range of beers which it sells to pubs all over the country from Newcastle down to Oxford and from Blackpool across to Scarborough. It also supplies local shops and has a shop on site.
Watt House Farm is still a working farm with sheep, hens, goats, five shire horses and two Percheron horses, China and Charlie, who areused to pullthe brewery dray at events like Bakewell Show.
“It’s what they call farm diversification,” said Richard. “We are still very much a farm, but we needed to get an income from somewhere else too.”
Philip Mosley, director of Norcroft Electrical, said diversifying into making money from solar panels was an obvious next step. The brewery uses power during daylight hours, so generating and then using its own electricity from the sun made sense.
“More and more businesses are seeing the advantage of using their roof space to not only save money but save the planet,” he said.
“For Bradfield Brewery it makes sense to fit solar panels because they have two large south-facing roofs.”
But businesses have so far been slow to capitalise on the money that can be saved by fitting solar panels. Figures from Ofgem show that out of nearly 2,000 photovoltaic installations in South Yorkshire only about a dozen are non-domestic. But that is slowly changing, said Philip, who started installing panels in 2006.
 “We fit a lot of panels on houses, but gradually the number of enquiries from businesses is increasing. It’s gone from 5 per cent of our inquiries to over 30.”
Fitting the panels on the two roofs at the brewery should take about three weeks.  A planning application has been submitted to the Peak District National Park Authority and will be considered within the next few months.
Philip can be contacted on 01226 763127 or 07973 757403 or at
Richard can be contacted on 0114 285 1118 or at

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