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AkzoNobel, AB InBev Latest in Spate of Companies Switching to 100% Renewables

This week, two more multinationals joined the ranks of companies energizing their sustainability agendas with bold commitments to power their entire operations with renewables.

This week, two more multinationals joined the ranks of companies energizing their sustainability agendas with bold commitments to power their entire operations with renewables.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has committed to secure 100 percent of the brewer’s purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025. In total, this will shift 6 terawatt-hours of electricity annually to renewable sources in the markets where AB InBev operates, and will help transform the energy industry in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, India and markets across the African continent. This increased renewable electricity generation — which is the amount of energy produced in one year by solar panels covering the area of more than 400 soccer fields2 — will support AB InBev’s efforts to achieve targets under the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

This commitment will make AB InBev the largest corporate direct purchaser of renewable electricity in the consumer goods sector globally1 and will reduce the company’s operational carbon footprint by 30 percent. This will have the same positive effect as removing nearly 500,000 cars from the road.3 The company has also joined RE100, a global initiative of influential businesses that are all committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity.

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

As part of this initiative, AB InBev expects to secure 75-85 percent of electricity through direct power purchasing agreements. The final 15-25 percent will mainly come from on-site technologies such as solar panels.

AB InBev’s renewable electricity transformation will begin in Mexico, which is home to the company’s largest brewery, in Zacatecas. AB InBev has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with Spanish utility Iberdrola for 490 gigawatt-hours per year. With this new partnership, the company will be able to meet all of its purchased electricity needs for production sites in the country. The agreement with Iberdrola is also expected to increase Mexico’s wind and solar energy capacity by more than 5 percent.4 Iberdrola will build and install 220 MW of wind energy capacity onshore in the state of Puebla; energy generation is expected to begin in the first half of 2019.

AB InBev plans to enter into similar agreements in other markets in the near future. Through this partnership in Mexico, AB InBev hopes to demonstrate that by switching to renewable electricity, businesses across the world can contribute to a 100 percent renewable electricity future.

Meanwhile, Dutch coatings and chemicals giant AkzoNobel has accelerated its sustainability agenda with goals to move to 100 percent renewable energy — and become carbon neutral — by 2050.

“Our ambition to eliminate carbon emissions and use 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 demonstrates our clear and unwavering commitment to sustainability,” explained CEO Ton Büchner. “We continue to identify areas of opportunity which will drive us forward and help reduce our industry’s dependence on fossil fuels. This new vision for 2050 will propel us further along that path, while enabling us to make a measurable contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

AkzoNobel’s share of renewable energy currently stands at 40 percent, with almost half the company’s sites around the world having improved their energy footprint in 2016. The intention now is to increase the momentum that has already been created by the company’s Planet Possible sustainability agenda.

This will include charting a path towards zero carbon emissions, 100 percent use of renewable energy, and offering products and services that enable customers to reduce their energy use and carbon impacts. Achieving the 2050 ambition will position the company at the forefront of industry efforts to transform the use of resources throughout the value chain.

“The year 2050 represents the final destination on a journey which has already seen us make great progress,” said AkzoNobel’s Corporate Director of Sustainability, André Veneman. “So, this is about successfully using sustainability as a driver for innovation, new technologies, new partnerships and new service models, which will ultimately lead to market transition.”

Continued Veneman: “Our pathway to renewable energy, means going beyond the immediate business, working with others to create a wider change in society. That’s the pathway we want to speed up. Partnerships will play a key role and we are at the forefront of working together with others to help the world move towards renewable energy quicker.”

AkzoNobel is involved in several such partnerships, notably in the Netherlands. These include sourcing energy from two new wind parks, switching from gas to sustainably generated steam to provide energy for chemicals production, and investigating the possible launch of a waste-to-chemicals factory.

1 Based on a comparison of current public commitments of major consumer goods companies to directly source electricity from renewable sources through direct purchasing. Excludes electricity purchased through green tariffs, contracts with grid suppliers and certificate purchases. Electricity consumption of companies taken from publicly available data.
2 Calculated based on the estimated area of installed solar panels required to produce AB InBev’s current electricity use per year, assuming a typical soccer pitch size as per FIFA guidelines and taking into account average capacity factors for solar energy.
3 Based on a carbon reduction of approximately 2 million tonnes CO2 per year and average annual car emissions of 4.1 tonnes CO2 per year (US EPA estimate for an average car).
4 Based on existing, estimated 2015 installed wind and solar capacity (IRENA).