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Citing climate change concerns, Anheuser-Busch commits to 100% renewables

Anheuser-Busch InBev, brewer of Budweiser, Beck's, Stella Artois and other beers, has committed to sourcing 100% of its electricity purchases from renewable resources by 2025. In shifting its suds to solar, wind and other renewable sources of power, the world's largest brewer joins an all-green energy trend fueled by dozens of large corporations, including technology giants Apple Inc., Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp., and financial institutions Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Swiss Reinsurance Co. Ltd.

"Climate change has profound implications for our company and for the communities where we live and work," said AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito in a March 28 statement. "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."

The move means Anheuser-Busch will purchase all of its global electricity, currently almost 6 terawatt-hours annually, mainly through power-purchase agreements and on-site renewable energy. The brewer now sources only about 7% of its power purchases from renewables, according to the RE100 initiative, an joint project of The Climate Group and CDP that Anheuser-Busch has joined.

Anheuser-Busch's energy transition "will help transform the energy industry in countries like Argentina, Brazil, India and markets across the African continent," the company said. Kicking off its effort is a power purchase agreement with Iberdrola México, a subsidiary of Spain's Iberdrola SA, for generation from a new 220 MW wind farm in Puebla, Mexico, that will power its largest brewery, located in Zacatecas. The project, also announced March 28, is scheduled to come online in 2019.

"The PPA in Mexico is our first agreement under this new commitment, but this commitment will cover every market in which we operate, and we plan to enter into similar agreements in other markets in the near future," said an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman, adding, "We will only consider using green tariffs or certificates in case incremental renewable capacity is not mutually beneficial in a given market." The company already has made substantial renewable energy purchases in the United States, she said, citing purchases for its brewery in Baldwinsville, N.Y., from a 17-MW solar facility.

Anheuser-Busch, with $46 billion in 2016 revenues, will become "the largest corporate direct purchaser of renewable electricity in the global consumer goods sector," according to The Climate Group.