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Brewing a better tomorrow, powered by renewable electricity

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Brewing a better tomorrow, powered by renewable electricity

In his famous book ‘How Bad Are Bananas?' author Mike Berners-Lee asserts that the CO2 footprint of a pint of beer ranges between 300g CO2 to 900g CO2, depending upon the source. While this may pale in comparison to other products, such as the 10-inch Quattro Formaggio pizza (with a whopping 2.2kg CO2), brewing is still energy-intensive. According to the book, electricity used in the process can account for about 25 percent of the total footprint. Now, what if the CO2 emissions made by the usage of electricity could be nullified? What if the production could move from traditional sources of energy to renewable electricity? Would that not reduce its environmental impact?

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the maker of popular beers like Budweiser, Corona, Hoegaarden, among others, is one of the brewers leading the way in this space. It is committed to transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity sources to brew beers by 2025. This, it aims to achieve, by securing about 75-85 percent of its renewable electricity through direct Power Purchase Agreements, while the rest would be powered by on-site solar projects.

For AB InBev, the journey towards renewable electricity started when the company in 2018 launched its 2025 sustainable goals that span four main pillars of smart agriculture, water stewardship, circular packaging and climate action. And the impact is already reflected on the ground: Budweiser that is sold in the US is now brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity.

This is just one example of how the world's leading brewer is championing change. The year 2018, notably, also marked the launch of its 100plus Accelerator initiative, an innovative program built with the idea of mobilising the world's brightest minds to solve some of the most pressing global sustainability challenges. By collaborating with leading thinkers, doers and innovators, the company is creating better solutions that will benefit the communities and the environment — today and for the next 100plus years.

Making strides on the road to renewable electricity

The company aims to reduce its operational carbon footprint by 25 percent, an equivalent of taking a massive 500,000 cars off the road. The program also works out a total of 6 terawatt-hours of electricity annually across all its markets.

Combining brewing with sustainability, the companies' Mysore unit became India's first brewery – and the third facility worldwide at the time of inception – to be powered by renewable sources. The company signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in India for 3.6 gigawatt hours per year for a period of ten years with Amp, a global renewable power provider for the Mysore brewery. With this leap, the brewery replaced over 65 percent of its total electricity consumption with solar power. In the coming years, the company plans to increase the contribution to a 100 percent, spurred by new PPAs that are in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, AB InBev brewery PALS in Aurangabad also made a shift to solar power. The project capacity for the solar panel installation at PALS is 526 KWp, which will help in generating an average of 2000 Units per day. This implementation is equivalent to planting 27,000 mature trees that can absorb above the CO2 or driving passenger vehicles for 49 lakh km each year without any CO2 reduction. The total electricity generated by the onsite solar installation stands at an impressive 13 percent and growing.

Turning the world green

And it isn't just in India alone; AB InBev is actively collaborating with other like-minded organizations in the renewable electricity space in countries such as Argentina, Brazil and South Africa, to drive new ideas and innovation and is consistently working towards procuring electricity through green sources. The brewer recently forged a Power Purchase Agreement with Spanish electric company Iberdrola for 419 GW hours of wind in Mexico for its largest brewery in Zacatecas. The project is poised to expand manifold as Iberdrola builds and installs 220 megawatts of wind energy capacity onshore in the Mexican state of Puebla. This has aided in increasing the country's total wind and solar energy capacity by more than 5 percent, from the time electricity generation commenced in the first half of 2019.

In Europe, AB InBev has secured a 10-year Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA), which will allow its breweries to use energy from BayWar.e.'s solar farms. With the intent to cover the company's 14 breweries in Western Europe and global brand Budweiser, this marks the largest Pan-European corporate solar power deal ever. In Spain, BayWar.e. is also developing two new solar farms, one of which will be called Budweiser Solar Farm, which is expected to generate around 250 GW hours per year for AB InBev.

The extent of AB InBev's commitment towards climate change and renewable electricity adoption can be gauged from the fact that it joined the RE100—a collaborative, global initiative of influential businesses committed to sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity back in 2017. In India, AB InBev has now also been formally inducted into the RE100 Policy Working Group.

Undoubtedly, balancing the triple Ps – People, Planet and Profit – can be a tough act for any company. Doing so requires a single-minded vision, unwavering passion and sustained commitment. AB InBev has shown a path forward on how this can be achieved. Especially in a country like India, where almost 50 percent of the generated electricity is sourced from fossil-fuels, namely thermal power, the company has demonstrated how going renewable is not just effective, but can lead to immense benefits to the environment. AB InBev is not just focused on brewing great beers that bring people together but making a positive impact to our environment to continue to bring people together for a better, brighter and sustainable world for the next 100plus years and beyond.