AB InBev Turns to Solar Power as South Africa Suffers Blackouts


(Bloomberg) --

Anheuser-Busch InBev is installing solar panels at South African breweries in a push to reach global environmental goals that comes as state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. struggles with blackouts.

The brewer of Budweiser beer said it’s joined an 18 billion rand ($1.3 billion) pan-African plan to generate more energy from environmentally friendly sources. The solar panels in South Africa are just one part of the initiative, which includes partners and spans the region.

The world’s biggest brewer has set a global target of securing all of its purchased energy from renewable sources by 2025. The company this month partnered with others in Europe to tap green power from BayWa r.e., a German renewable energy developer.

The latest move comes as Eskom has had to institute rolling electricity blackouts due to operational problems. That has prompted South African companies to secure electricity through other means, although regulations require them to buy some of their power from the utility.

“We can’t do 100% renewable power in Africa at this stage” because of the sourcing rules and the instability of some power grids, said Taryn Rosekilly, vice president for sustainability at AB InBev Africa.

AB InBev is completing solar electricity projects at seven South African manufacturing sites and also testing electric trucks for deliveries.

Read More: Solar Boosts Reliability of South Africa, Zimbabwe Mines: BNEF

Solar power at the breweries will provide 10% to 15% of the energy needs of AB InBev’s South African businesses and costs 15-20% less than buying electricity generated by Eskom, the company says. Other green power generation options being considered include wind and converting liquid waste produced by the breweries into gas.

By the end of this year, AB InBev plans to use wind and solar power at a malting plant in Caledon, in South Africa’s Western Cape province. It will be the first South African site using 100% renewable energy.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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