Sydney craft brewery raises $100k in 17 mins to fund shift to solar


The push to solar by Sydney-based beer maker 4 Pines Brewing Company has raised more than $100,000 in just 17 minutes, through a crowd-funding effort led by Pingala Co-operative and ClearSky Solar Investment.
The crowd-funding round was launched last October to finance a 100kW solar PV system, installed in November by Smart Commercial Solar – a first step, according to the craft brewer, on its planned pathway to 100 per cent renewables by 2025.
The result was a resounding success, with ClearSky confirming with One Step this week that a total of $116,000 was raised in just over a quarter of an hour, through a network of investors including brewery locals, supporters and staff.
ClearSky says the fixed unit trust set up for the project has ten unit holders – the biggest being Pingala, with 870 $100 units for local Northern Beaches investors, and 4 Pines employees holding the remaining 290 units.
As part of the investment deal, 4 Pines will continue to pay for electricity consumed, with the proceeds returned to shareholders via a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) set up through Smart Commercial Solar.
Investors can expect to get as much as an 8 per cent return on their investment, the company said back in October.
For 4 Pines, the 100kW rooftop solar system will help power its brewery, pack-line and office spaces in Sydney’s Brookvale – covering around 40 per cent of its current power needs.
It is also brings the boutique brewer in line with the commitment of its parent company, AB InBev, to source 100 per cent of purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
For its part, community solar outfit Pingala has valuable experience with community-funded solar beer.
It was behind one of the earliest examples of solar crowd-funding in Australia – also for a brewery – when it led a community investment round for Young Henry’s in Newtown in 2016.
On that occasion, the crowd-funding effort raised a total of $17,500 in just nine minutes, to help pay for the installation of a 29.9kW solar array at Young Henry’s Brewery, also in Sydney.
The 56 investors were expected to achieve returns of more than 5 per cent p.a. over the term of the project.
“Solar is great, but when hundreds of people from the 4 Pines community can invest in the project, the overall impact is much greater,” said Pingala co-founder and convenor April Crawford-Smith in October last year.
“The collaboration with ClearSky is a first as well, combining the strengths of both our models. We’re hoping many other breweries and businesses can do the same, installing solar but also building stronger links with their community.”
Christina Kirche, director at ClearSky Solar has welcomed the opportunity for the company to apply its community energy investment model in its “own back yard” in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
“We have a successful track record of community solar projects in Australia since our launch in 2013 and this will be our 32nd community solar project.
“Our mission is to empower our local communities to benefit not just environmentally, but also economically, from the production of clean energy and this project is a real win-win,” she said.
The solar at 4 Pines puts it among a growing number of PV powered craft brewers around Australia, which we detailed up to a point in this story, with the Clean Energy Council, in May last year.
Major commercial brewers, including Australian giant Carlton & United, are also turning to renewables to power their operations, through either their own installations, or through solar and wind power purchase agreements.

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