The American brewer Anheuser-Busch is set to buy entirely renewable electricity by 2021 after signing the largest solar power purchase agreement (PPA) of any US beverage company.
Coupled with its Budweiser Wind Farm in Billings, Oklahoma, the move will allow Anheuser-Busch to reach 100% renewable electricity in the US four years ahead of its 2025 goal.
It will also enable parent company AB InBev to achieve 50% renewable electricity globally – a step toward its 100% goal in the RE100 initiative, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP.
The solar energy facility will be built by 2021 in Pecos County, Texas, covering 2,000 acres – around the size of 1,500 football fields – with enough solar panels to stretch from New York City to the Southern tip of Florida.
Once complete, the 222 alternating megawatts (MWac) project is expected to generate 650 gigawatt hours of energy annually, seeing all of Anheuser-Busch’s domestic beer brands – including Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and Busch – brewed entirely with renewable electricity.
“This is about category leadership and making a positive contribution in the communities we live and work,” said Michel Doukeris, President and CEO, Anheuser-Busch.
“This expansion and investment in our renewable electricity commitment not only brings us closer to realizing our dream of a better world, it also moves our business and operations forward.”
The rise of power purchase agreements
The provider for the project will be Recurrent Energy, a leading utility-scale solar developer in the US and a subsidiary of Canadian Solar. Anheuser-Busch will purchase the renewable electricity credits from the energy delivered to the grid.
The latest RE100 Progress and Insights Annual Report shows that PPAs are growing in popularity as a sourcing strategy, particularly in the US where they accounted for as much as 20% of renewable electricity sourced by RE100 members in 2017.
PPAs enable companies to take out long-term contracts at stable and affordable prices, protecting them from the risk of price hikes with fossil fuels. They also increase renewable energy capacity on the grid and so directly impact the market – one way for companies to demonstrate leadership.
“We’re thrilled that Anheuser-Busch is choosing to brew its beers with 100% renewable power,” said Amy Davidsen, Executive Director – North America, The Climate Group.
“This exciting solar project goes to show renewable energy make business sense, and we look forward to following AB InBev as it journeys to 100% renewable electricity globally.”
Here comes the sun
Commemorating Anheuser-Busch’s achievement at a ceremony held at its Fairfield brewery, California, President and CEO Michel Doukeris burned his signature into a different kind of agreement – with the sun, and for five billion years.
The wooden agreement was created by solar artist Michael Papadakis, as symbolic gesture to show that as long as the sun is shining, Anheuser-Busch will be committed to using renewable electricity sources.
The announcement follows on the heels of Budweiser becoming the first Anheuser-Busch brand and the first major beer brand in the US to be brewed with 100% renewable electricity from wind power in 2018, which the brand showcased in a commercial during this year’s Super Bowl.