Brewery harnesses the sun for an even greener pint

Philip Mosley and Richard Gill toast the Bradfield Brewery plans
Philip Mosley and Richard Gill toast the Bradfield Brewery plans

A SHEFFIELD brewery is planning to spend more than £100,000 turning to the sun to make its beer.

Bradfield Brewery at High Bradfield, best know for its Farmer brand of beers, is aiming 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 and saving on electricity bills.

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, 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 a 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 and sells to pubs from Newcastle to Oxford and from Blackpool 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 are used to pull the brewery dray at events such as 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 Hoylandswaine solar panel company 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 inquiries from businesses is increasing. It’s gone from 5% of our inquiries to over 30.”

A planning application for the solar panels at Bradfield has been submitted to the Peak District National Park Authority.