Residential Solar Challenge of the Yr 2020: Villa Residence and Dwelling Brewery


Arvada, Colo. | 25.41 kW

The 2020 Solar Project of 2020 chosen by the readers of Solar Builder is Villa Residence and Home Brewery in Arvada, Colorado. It is owned by Keith and Jodi Villa, co-owners of Donovan Brewing. Keith also created Blue Moon once, so yeah, this isn’t just any homebrew setup.

“The construction of a 2-barrel pilot brewery on our property in Colorado was a matter of course for a master brewer of 30 years,” says Jodi Villa. “The outbuilding already existed. All we had to do was buy the brewing equipment, upgrade the utilities, and we made tasty craft beers. However, we quickly learned that a 3 horsepower glycol cooler used to keep jacketed fermentation tanks cool uses a lot of power. We also found out that the walk-in cooler we installed to store the finished barrel also uses a lot of electricity. For this reason we have decided to take advantage of the endless sunshine of Colorado and generate our own electricity with photovoltaic solar panels. “

Contractor: Ecology Solar
Module: Jinko
Inverter: SolarEdge
Assembly: Unirac, Aerocompact

After talking to several companies, Ecology Solar was seen as the best solution for this rather complicated project. The power requirement Jodi mentioned required 25 kW to make up 90 percent of the consumption, and the roof “wouldn’t support the panels unless substantial reinforcements were added,” says Charlie Wilde of Ecology. “We looked at a floor-mounted system, but the owners wanted a low profile PV array due to possible aesthetic concerns from neighbors. That is why we kept the profile in landscape format at the same height as a single module. The available land area did not offer enough annual offset, so we considered installing a vertical arrangement on the barn wall that passed the structural assessment. “

The racking for the wall panels was adjusted by Stephen Bures, Head of System Design and Technical Sales at Ecology Solar.

“I think it almost started, not a joke, but it wasn’t exactly serious at first, hey, what about the wall? There is good exposure there. ‘But we came to the conclusion from talking to the customer. … It may have been a little more effort and time, but you were just the right customer and were okay with all of this. “

Bures says the permit went pretty smoothly. They were actually more concerned about how many square feet were covered on the ground relative to the property than they were over the wall. The ecology also completed the appearance of the soil fields with landscaping fabric, gravel and a surrounding fence.

The combination of floor and wall arrangement meant lower PV production from the wall arrangement and higher production from the floor arrangement in summer and vice versa in winter. The resulting total PV production profile is a steady, year-round monthly balance between 2.006 MWh and 3.253 MWh.

“The resulting cost savings were immediate,” says Jodi. “Our electricity bill was cut by over 90 percent and we were able to take advantage of the federal tax credit program. Above all, we pride ourselves on brewing our beers sustainably. “

Oh, and for your information, the new experimental beers the mansions are working on at this solar powered backyard brewery? Cannabis beers. I have to love Colorado.

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