World’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev SA – parent to brands including Budweiser, Corona, Rolling Rock, Michelob, and Stella Artois – has committed to sourcing its electricity entirely from renewable sources by 2025. The move would make AB InBev the largest corporate direct purchaser of renewable electricity in the global consumer goods sector.
AB InBev makes 30% of the world’s beer, operating breweries in 50 countries. Collectively, these facilities consume 6 terawatt-hours of electricity a year, of which 7% is currently renewable-sourced. According to a March 28 press release, changing to 100% renewable electricity will reduce the company's carbon footprint by 30%, an estimated reduction of about 2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
While many multinational companies “invest” in renewables by buying renewable energy credits or certificates known as "RECs", AB InBev’s plan involves no REC-buying. The company reportedly intends to obtain 75 to 85 percent of its electricity through direct power purchases under a power purchase agreement or similar commercial arrangement, with remaining 15 to 25 percent coming from on-site distributed generation installations at its facilities, like solar panels. The company has committed to producing the energy in the country in which it is to be consumed.
Sourcing renewable energy is relatively easier in some countries, like Mexico. AB InBev announced that its largest facility, a Grupo Modelo brewery, had signed contracts to get all its electricity from wind power, including 220 MW to be built by Iberdrola SA in Puebla. Those new wind projects alone, destined to supply the brewery, represent a 5% increase to Mexico's renewable energy capacity. But in other countries, most notably in Africa, a lack of markets and infrastructure to connect industrial consumers with renewable energy may prove challenging. Also worth noting is that the company's commitment relates to electricity, and not directly to fuels or heat required for beer production and distribution.
Nevertheless, Anheuser-Busch InBev's commitment to sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2025 across its global portfolio of facilities represents another data point in the trend of corporate direct investment in renewable energy. Corporations including Apple, Google, and Amazon have made a variety of commitments relating to renewable electricity, citing benefits ranging from environmental sustainability to locking in power pricing.