The world’s largest brewer, AB InBev, together with the German company specialized in the renewables sector BayWa r.e., announced a record corporate solar power deal on Thursday. The 10-year Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) is part of AB InBev’s 2025 Sustainability Goals.
The multinational drink and brewing company based in Leuven, Belgium, will buy 100% renewable electricity for its operations and will see power supplied from two solar farms with a combined output of almost 200 MW.
Covering AB InBev’s 14 breweries in Western Europe and over 50 brands more, such as Budweiser, this represents the largest Pan-European corporate solar power deal in history.
“As a brewer, we rely on natural ingredients – water, hops, barley and yeast – to make our beers, so we know that sustainability is not just part of our business, it is our business,” Jason Warner, Zone President for Europe at AB InBev, said.
A new symbol will appear on the beer to encourage consumers to choose a renewably brewery, once the shift will be completed for the whole Budweiser production in Western Europe. The symbol will also be available for other businesses to use.
This commitment will make AB InBev the largest corporate buyer of renewable electricity in the consumer goods industry, involving its operations across the UK, Russia, Mexico, the US, Australia, China and India.
A new Budweiser Solar Farm, which will provide 250 GWh of renewable electricity per year for AB InBev’s breweries, will be one of the two new solar sites in Spain funded and developed by BayWa r.e. The resulting energy will be enough to power the equivalent of almost 670,000 homes.
“Consumers increasingly want to make ‘green’ choices with the products they buy. Corporations are the new driving force in this transition and, within the retail sector, it means consumers can help play a part in combating climate change through the buying decisions they make,” Matthias Taft, CEO at BayWa r.e., said.
The new plants are expected to be running by March 2022. Before that, BayWa r.e. is providing AB InBev with 75 GWh (enough to produce beer for 18 Oktoberfests) from its wind farm La Muela in Zaragoza, Spain.
A recent report from the RE-Source Platform shows that “Commercial and industrial on-site solar installations represent the bulk of the various on-site forms of corporate sourcing […] In the last five years, Europe has seen annual rates of installations of commercial and industrial on-site solar plants of around 2-3 GW per year, and forecasts show that installations of on-site solar plants will increase dramatically over the coming years.”
AB InBev’s move is going to be especially significant in the context of the European Green Deal, as achieving the climate targets will require efforts from all sectors.
Asked about the deal by Forbes.com, the deputy CEO of SolarPower Europe and RE-Source Platform coordinator Bruce Douglas commented: “To reach climate neutrality by 2050 and meet the 2030 target of 32% renewable energy, corporate sourcing of renewables will be key to help reach these ambitious goals. The BayWa r.e. and AB InBev deal is a major milestone in the history of European corporate sourcing, demonstrating that this sustainable business model is quickly becoming a central driver in Europe’s renewable energy transition.”
“The benefit of renewable electricity is not just the significant reduction of CO2 emissions but also the growing competitive advantage for European industries due to the falling cost of solar and wind energy. To help unlock these untapped opportunities, national governments must play their part by removing administrative hurdles to sourcing renewable energy. Deals such as this, highlight the possibility of a fully renewable economy, where corporate renewable energy sourcing forms a key part of a successful energy transition for the benefit of Europe’s consumers and businesses, the people and the planet.”