World’s largest brewer commits to a 100% renewable electricity future

Reading time: 5 minutes
28 March 2017

LONDON: The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has joined RE100 with a commitment to power its global operations – representing almost six terawatt-hours of electricity annually – with 100% renewable sources.

Led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, RE100 brings together the world’s most influential companies demonstrating the highest level of leadership on renewable power.

AB InBev, which produces beverages including Budweiser, Beck’s and Stella Artois, is aiming to source all its purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025, accounting for approximately 90% of its total electricity consumption worldwide.

This will make it the largest corporate direct purchaser of renewable electricity in the global consumer goods sector, reducing the company’s operational carbon footprint by 30% – the equivalent of taking nearly 500,000 cars off the road.

“Climate change has profound implications for our company and for the communities where we live and work,” said Carlos Brito, CEO, AB InBev.

“Cutting back on fossil fuels is good for the environment and good for business, and we are committed to helping drive positive change. We have the opportunity to play a leading role in the battle against climate change by purchasing energy in a more sustainable way.”

AB InBev, which acquired SABMiller in October last year, currently sources around 7% of its purchased electricity from renewable sources.

In future, the company expects to secure 75-85% of its purchased electricity through direct Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), and has just signed its first with Iberdrola in Mexico, home to its largest brewery, in Zacatecas.

Going renewable in Mexico

The new agreement with Iberdrola will provide 490 gigawatt-hours of wind power per year, enabling AB InBev to use 100% renewable purchased electricity across all its production sites across Mexico. The move is expected to increase the country’s total wind and solar energy capacity by more than 5%.

Iberdrola will build and install 220 megawatts of wind energy capacity onshore in the Mexican state of Puebla, and energy generation is expected to begin in the first half of 2019.

AB InBev is planning to secure similar PPAs in other markets in the near future, helping to transform the energy industry in countries like Argentina, Brazil, India and South Africa. The rest of its purchased electricity will mainly come from on-site technologies such as solar panels.

On-site fossil fuel generation currently accounts for around 10% of AB InBev’s total electricity consumption and the company will explore options for transitioning this to renewable power in the future.

The business case

AB InBev is demonstrating that by switching to renewable electricity, businesses across the world can contribute to a 100% renewable electricity future – not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it’s a smart business move.

“Before long, we will see every Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois made with 100% renewable power”, said Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 at The Climate Group, “and it makes business sense, with financial savings, job creation and emissions cuts on offer.

“AB Inbev is significantly boosting demand for renewables around the world, showing just the kind of leadership we need to slow climate change and speed a low carbon economy, inspiring other companies right along the value chain.”

Investor action

AB InBev’s public commitment to 100% renewable power comes after RE100 partner ShareAction convened a group of investors to write to SAB Miller last year. One of those investors was Norwegian pension provider, KLP.

“As the world's greatest purchasers and users of energy, business and industries are best positioned to lead the shift from fossil fuel to renewables and reach the ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement”, said Jeanett Bergan, Head of Responsible Investments at KLP.

“A clear message from corporates on a shift from fossil fuel to renewables is a language investors can understand. Collaboration among investors and owners of companies to push this agenda is most effective and powerful in driving the change.”

by Marie Reynolds

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