Glassblower Ben specializes in producing handmade artisan glassware. Looking to lower the cost of operating an energy-intensive production process, business owner Ben Dombey turned to solar for an efficient, reliable source of clean energy.
Dombey began his journey in custom glassware in 2011 after a trip to Scotland. There, he was inspired to create what he calls “the perfect rocks glass” with a goal of making special moments in life “even more magical.”
Since starting his business, Glassblower Ben found a home in New Orleans. The unique glasses are crafted entirely by hand in his Bywater workshop. “People that appreciate a handmade item can appreciate the work and practice that goes into these glasses” Ben explains, “over 15 years I’ve probably produced 30,000 handmade glasses.”
The quality and workmanship that goes into each product requires a lot of energy. Two furnaces, a ventilation system, transformers, and ovens are only part of Ben’s considerable usage. Looking to lower the cost of operating this energy-intensive production process, Ben turned to an efficient, reliable solar panel system.
“My furnace is by far the biggest energy draw and the most important tool. It holds about 300 lbs. of molten glass. I cook silica at 2,200 degrees and it melts into glass. This is on all the time and weighs about 3 tons. It takes about a week to heat up and a week to cool off.”
As Ben’s business grew, his energy usage became a weight on his resources. “I have a big south-facing roof” he explains, “so I figured, why not have the sun help me out?”
Engineers from Solar Alternatives designed a 48-panel system on the south-facing roof of Ben’s workshop to help offset his energy usage. Utilizing high-efficiency Longi solar modules, the system will generate over 25,000 kWh of power annually and is expected to save Glassblower Ben $120,000 over its lifetime. The solar panels will have a significant environmental impact as well, eliminating nearly 20 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. That value will increase to 500 tons over the lifetime of the system.
“Helping small business owners like Glassblower Ben is a core part of our mission at Solar Alternatives,” says Marketing Director, Ken Faucheux. “We’re proud to play even a small part in helping to bring his beautiful glassware to life.”