How an inner-west, solar-powered beer project inspires hope for a sustainable future

You would have to agree that those Inner West folk are an eclectic and interesting bunch. At the heart of the inner west is Newtown and its neighbouring suburbs, recognised by its authentic and offbeat style, vintage and artisanal wares, coffee cred, craft beer breweries and communal atmosphere. Think Brooklyn, East London or the Kreuzberg borough of Berlin. The general vibe of the Inner West could be reminiscent of old school sentiment. However, the Inner West-ers are certainly not behind the times when it comes to embracing new technology. After all, there are still some things that are uncool about staying in the past, such as investing in fossil fuels, fast fashion and unethical work practices.

A brilliant example of the adoption of renewable energy into a business model is the local brewery legends at Young Henrys. The founders of the successful brewery, Oscar McMahon and Richard Adamson, are in touch with their communities love of craft beer. What they are also clued in to is the local communities interest in innovative renewable energy projects. As a savvy business decision, it just made sense to combine the two — and what do you get? Solar-powered beer, of course! The idea was wildly successful in terms of investor interest. So how did it all happen?

Solar-power will give breweries that extra strength to succeed in the future

Pingala, a Sydney-based company specialising in community owned solar projects, came to Young Henrys with an idea. What if the solar installations they were planning to put on their roof were owned by local people, invested in the future success of their company? Incorporating that idea paid off. Demand for investment in the Pingala project was so strong that shares were sold in 9 minutes (the investors were drawn from a barrel of 300 applicants). Young Henrys pays Pingala for the lease of the solar panels, Pingala generates a decent income to pay their costs and shareholders are expected to earn a 6–8 per cent return for investments. A rewarding investment for the local renters in the area who can’t invest in their own homes but instead can put their money into renewable projects in the community. It’s a mutual benefit for all, especially Young Henrys, who become owners of the solar panels once they are paid back. Solar panels pay for themselves in around 7–8 years and after that they will receive free energy to power their business whenever the sun is shining. In fostering a community project, Young Henrys are able to forge a deeper engagement between consumers and their brand and become game changers in their own right. As McMahon proclaims “solar-powered beers tastes better.”

Pretty exciting right? Now imagine if we took that Inner West mindset and applied it on a global level. It is empowering to think of the collective influence of people on a global scale, investing in companies that have sustainability at the core of their business models and are taking responsibility for what they produce and the long term effects it has on the world. Ultimately setting a global standard and demand for companies to use their business to address important issues in the process.

Curious about using your investments to create a better world? Why not check out Goodments. By recommending you companies that align with your ethical and social values, Goodments makes it easier to make informed investment choices. Whether that be to invest in companies that are making the switch to 100% renewable energy, or creating initiatives to ensure equitable rights for employees throughout their supply chain. Importantly, these investments are shown to be more profitable in the long run, so you can invest ethically without sacrificing returns. Still not convinced? Think about that extra cash that could be spent on craft beers and fair-trade coffee.

Header Image courtesy of Young Henrys


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