Renewable energy is brewing
What does Budweiser’s 100 percent renewable electricity commitment mean?
If you watched the Super Bowl, you saw something familiar — a team of Clydesdales pulling a Budweiser wagon. But this year, the brewing company used their Super Bowl ad to make an announcement. As the camera pulled away from the horse-drawn carriage and the dalmatian sitting atop it, we saw fields filled with wind turbines, and the tagline: “Now brewed with wind power for a better tomorrow.”
Budweiser is one of the most recent companies to get on board with a shift to 100 percent renewable energy. By switching to renewable sources, companies can make an impact on our overall energy production, but they can also send a message. Budweiser chose to air their commercial during the most watched broadcast of the year because they wanted people to know that they believe switching to renewables is the right thing to do. They knew that consumers of their beer would agree.
A huge company lending their support to 100 percent renewable energy is a big deal in and of itself, but it’s important to take a closer look and ask — so what does “now brewed with wind power” actually mean?
According to their website, Budweiser will have fulfilled their commitment when “100% of the elements of the Budweiser brewing process that are reliant on electricity have come from renewable sources such as wind or solar power.” This past spring, they hit that milestone for their operations in the U.S., and it’s part of a global pledge to brew all of their beer worldwide with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025.
And it’s not just Budweiser. Anheuser-Busch, InBev, Budweiser’s parent company — which also produces beers like Corona and Stella Artois — announced in 2017 they would purchase all their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
So how much of an impact is this actually going to make? Budweiser says that the company sells 41 million bottles of Budweiser on average every day. By their estimates, switching to all renewable electricity will mean the pollution-reduction equivalent of taking 48,000 passenger vehicles off the road each year, once the goal is reached.
Of course, electricity is not the only energy-intensive piece of the brewing process. Brewing Bud also requires heat energy, which the company is still producing through non-renewable sources. In a statement, Budweiser says, “The thermal energy from the brewing process comes from a mixture of energy sources including natural gas, which we are still dependent on. However, we have been increasing our usage of low carbon sources such as biogas and landfill gas.”
In short, there’s still work to be done, but powering their electricity with 100 percent renewable sources is certainly a big step in the right direction. In the near future, we hope to see Budweiser and other energy-intensive industries make a full transition to renewable energy for all of their operations.
Commitments like this from companies, both big and small, are starting to sound more and more familiar. In fact, AB InBev is part of a network of 162 companies, called RE100, that support a 100 percent renewable energy goal. This list includes widely familiar companies like Apple, IKEA, Coca-Cola and Facebook.
The pledges that the RE100 companies have made are varied (you can read about them all here), but the message is the same. As some of the biggest consumers of energy, and with huge public platforms, companies across the country like Budweiser are acknowledging the need to switch to 100 percent renewable energy, and they want to send a message to their customers that they’re doing the right thing.
This story takes me back to the Budweiser Superbowl ad. We start focused on one point — the dalmatian, his black and white ears blowing in the wind. But when we take a step back, we see a bigger picture, a broad landscape of renewable energy spreading out across the American plains. This announcement from Budweiser is part of a larger shift in what we want want to see from major companies. We don’t want to see them just producing good beer, but we want them to do it sustainably, renewably, and for a better tomorrow.