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Historic Pearl Brewery to become solar gem

It doesn't produce beer anymore, but the facility will accommodate a 200-kilowatt array of solar panels.

Amid all the fermentation in the alternative-energy sector, the historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio is poised to become a showcase for solar power.

And it'll be a big one, to boot. CPS Energy and renovator Silver Ventures want to turn the former brewery into the largest solar energy installation in Texas: a 200-kilowatt array of panels will crown a 67,000-square-foot warehouse that's being rehabbed for mixture of office, retail and residential use as the Full Goods Building. The project will provide approximately one-quarter of the building's total energy needs, according to CPS Energy, the municipal power utility in the central Texas city.

CPS Energy says it now has a renewable energy capacity that can handle 11 percent of its customers' peak energy needs. Its goal is to get to 15 percent by 2020, through sources including wind power and landfill gas.

Altogether, the solar power project--which will also serve as an educational facility for students and visitors--is expected to cost $1.35 million. The San Antonio Business Journal says the project is due to be completed in 2008.

The brewery was in operation from the 1880s to 2001. (Pearl Beer is apparently now brewed several hundred miles to the north in Fort Worth.) Overall, the facility covers 22 acres, and already houses some initial projects, including the Center for Foods of the Americas, a culinary institute that opened in March 2006.