If Renewable Energy will Just Keep me in Chocolate and Beer – I’m Good

September 14, 2017

Daily Oklahoman:

Budweiser, this wind is for you.

Anheuser-Busch and Enel Green Power said Wednesday they have signed a power agreement for electricity from an under-construction wind farm in northern Oklahoma.

The deal will give Anheuser-Busch 152.5 megawatts of capacity from the 298-megawatt Thunder Ranch wind farm in Garfield, Kay and Noble counties. The $435 million Enel project, which is being constructed in two phases, is expected to be in operation by the end of the year.

The project is the brewer’s first large-scale renewable energy deal in the United States and will help its parent company, AB InBev, meet a global pledge to secure all of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025. That goal would be equivalent to taking 500,000 cars off the road each year.

“As we strive to bring people together to build a better world, we at Anheuser-Busch are dedicated to reducing our carbon emissions,” said Joao Castro Neves, the company’s president and CEO. “Helping to grow the renewable energy market is not only good for the environment, it is a strategic business move as we strive for long-term sustainability.”

Enel started construction of the Thunder Ranch wind farm in May. The company already has eight wind farms in operation in Oklahoma and is also building the 300-megawatt Red Dirt wind farm in Kingfisher and Logan counties. Enel will have about 1,700 megawatts of wind capacity in Oklahoma by the end of the year.

This is all, of course, reinforcing the message of my newest Yale Climate Connections video:

Corporate customers are a fast-growing segment of the wind industry, which traditionally sold electricity to utilities or as merchant generators into a competitive energy market. Last year, corporate and other non-utility customers signed agreements for more than 1,950 megawatts of U.S. wind capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Low wind prices and the certainty of long-term energy delivery at a fixed cost has attracted corporate customers across the Fortune 500, as well as universities, cities and military installations. Tech companies led the way and continue to be the biggest buyers of renewable energy, but recent deals have included manufacturers and retailers.

“This is something consumers care about,” Castro Neves said. “We are doing this because shareholders are asking, stakeholders are asking, because we as a management team believe this is the right thing to do.”

Neither Enel nor Anheuser-Busch revealed the price of the wind procured under the power agreement.

Castro Neves called the Enel Thunder Ranch deal a “win-win-win” for Anheuser-Busch. In the past decade, the brewer has cut its water use by 50 percent and lowered its glass, aluminum and paper packaging costs. Since 2008, the company has cut its energy use by 30 percent.

“I think it’s great to partner with a company that is investing heavily in the U.S.,” Castro Neves said. “It’s a win for us, it’s a win for nature, it’s a win for Enel.”

Anheuser-Busch projects it will take 610 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year from the Thunder Ranch wind farm, or as much energy is used to brew 20 billion, 12-ounce beers.

“This announcement shows the trust that these companies show in Oklahoma as an energy leader,” Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Mulhall, said in a statement. “The returns to my district will be felt in the local schools and all the sectors of our local economies.”

Enel said it spent more than $2.7 billion on its eight current Oklahoma wind farms, with more than $300 million in local property taxes paid to local communities over their useful lives.

American Wind Energy Association:

Even better, the news from Anheuser-Busch and M&M’s isn’t unique. Wind increasingly powers Fortune 500 decisions about energy.

“It is critical that we continue developing the renewables, because, believe me, at the end of the day, if the Facebooks and the Googles and the PayPals and the Amazons think that we are not committed to renewable energy, they will not come here. Period, end of story,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich said last month.

Recent history proves Gov. Kasich right. Here’s Apple CEO Tim Cook explaining why his company chose to build two new data center in Iowa:

“For us, (access to wind is) kind of a gate. If we couldn’t do that, we would not be here. To Iowa’s credit, Iowa saw this and had the vision to work with the utilities and so forth so it could happen. I think that says a lot about the people here and how they work together.”

For the local community, those data centers will create 50 full-time jobs in a new industry, on top on hundreds of jobs during the construction phase and $1.4 billion of investment.

From General Motors to General Mills, access to wind is influencing where companies build new factories, data centers and headquarters. All of these examples show that states open to developing their wind resources have a leg up when it comes to attracting new businesses, and that creates opportunities for their residents.

Fast Company:

Last year, Mars, the world’s biggest chocolate maker and the corporate home to brands like M&Ms, Twix, and Snickers, pledged $1 billion to fight climate change through investments in renewable energy, sustainable food sourcing, and more. Beyond the two wind farms it currently operates in Scotland and Texas, the company also promised to add wind and solar farms to another nine countries by 2018 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 27% by 2025, and 67% by 2050. Now, a couple of the company’s most popular mascots are getting in on it.

This week, just ahead of Climate Week, Mars’s M&Ms launched a new consumer campaign called “Fans of Wind” to spread the word and raise awareness around fighting climate change–and what the company itself is doing to fight it. M&Ms says it’s the first major food business to source all of its electricity for its U.S. operations from renewable sources, with wind farms in Mesquite Creek, Texas, and Moy, Scotland, that source enough wind power needed to make all of the M&M’s in the world. In 2016, M&Ms purchased enough wind energy to power the annual electricity use of 70,300 U.S. households. A wind turbine spinning for one second produces sufficient energy to make eight packs of plain or peanut M&Ms.

Berta de Pablos-Barbier, president of Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S., says the new campaign is about showing that if a seemingly small piece of chocolate can make a difference in counteracting climate change, then each person has the power to make a difference. “We are making clear our commitment to sustainable energy,” Pablos-Barbier says. “We are leveraging our unique position as one of the world’s largest privately held, family-owned businesses, plus the power of our iconic brands like M&M’s, to do good for our consumers and for the planet.”

And before you can say “Hardcut: Cheetos,” it’s worth noting that the $1 billion investment and the wind farm energy sourcing are a significant, multi-year, financial investment. It’s one that, even though not perfect, is still an important step in what should be a wider commitment among global corporations to making the world’s energy consumption more sustainable.

Below, Mars spot from 2014 announcing the wind farm buy.


3 Responses to “If Renewable Energy will Just Keep me in Chocolate and Beer – I’m Good”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    “Mars Invests in Massive Wind Farm”

    Edgar Rice Burroughs would be so proud.

  2. The Curates Egg

    Your afternoon chocolate bar may be fuelling climate change, destroying protected forests and threatening elephants, chimpanzees and hippos in West Africa, research suggests.

    Well-known brands, such as Mars and Nestle, are buying through global traders cocoa that is grown illegally in dwindling national parks and reserves in Ivory Coast and Ghana, environmental group Mighty Earth said.

    Almost one-third of 23 protected natural areas in Ivory Coast that researchers visited in 2015 had been almost entirely converted to illegal cocoa plantations, the report said.

    Researchers said the practice is so widespread that villages of tens of thousands of people, along with churches and schools, have sprung up in national parks to support the cocoa economy.

    Ivory Coast, Francophone West Africa’s biggest economy, is the world’s top cocoa grower.

    While the bulk of its 1 million cocoa farmers ply their trade legally, Washington-based Mighty Earth estimates about a third of cocoa is grown illegally in protected areas.

    Deforestation for cocoa happens in sight of authorities and chocolate traders are aware of it, they said.

    Loss of natural forests is problematic because they act as a home for the region’s wildlife, and a key weapon against climate change, absorbing carbon dioxide – a major driver of climate change – as they grow.

    Available land for new cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast ran out long ago, so farmers have moved into parks and reserves, taking advantage of a decade of political crisis that ended in 2011.

    Ivory Coast’s now has about 6 million acres of natural forest, a fifth of what it had at independence in 1960, according to European Union figures. Most of the losses have been due to expanding agriculture.

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