Since 1926, Pecos County, Texas has been residence to one of many largest oil fields in the USA. Up to now, it has produced greater than a billion barrels of oil and, consultants counsel, there may be one other billion barrels but to be tapped.
However drive via Pecos County a few years from now, and it won’t be the enormous Yates Oil Area that almost all instructions your consideration. Somewhat, your eye could also be drawn by an infinite solar energy farm, on monitor to be the seventh largest ever constructed, stretching so far as the attention can see, for round 2,000 acres in complete. As Angie Slaughter, one of many individuals behind the venture, informed Digital Developments, that’s “about 1,500 soccer fields of nothing however photo voltaic panels.”
Oh sure, and did we point out that its 222-megawatt capability shall be used for brewing beer? That’s another reason to be ok with hitting the bar on a Friday night time!
The excessive price of consuming beer
The brand new solar energy station is the work of Recurrent Vitality, a utility-scale photo voltaic and power storage venture developer on the innovative of unpolluted power, and a conglomerate known as Anheuser-Busch Corporations. If this second identify doesn’t ring a bell with you, its merchandise virtually definitely do. Anheuser-Busch is the world’s largest beer producer; the corporate accountable — a minimum of in the USA — for producing home beers that embrace Bud Gentle, Golden Street, Michelob ULTRA, Busch, and plenty of extra. By constructing its new photo voltaic plant, the world’s largest beer producer will do one thing that no different main beverage participant has but been capable of: To brew 100% of its drinks utilizing renewable power.
“Your six pack in all probability was made with sufficient power to run [a 40-inch Energy Star TV] for 20 hours.”
“If you take a look at the parts of a beer, it’s [made from] very pure components,” Slaughter, who’s vice chairman of sustainability at AB InBev, continued. “So it solely is smart for us to have long-term sustainable provides of power and water. It matches with our manufacturing and the underlying processes of what we manufacture. There’s a robust connection level.”
Many people (myself included) might not give an excessive amount of thought to the power use that goes into making beer. That’s even though it stays, by far, the preferred alcoholic beverage in North America, considerably beating out each wine and liquor. In 2017, beer makers shipped some 26.four gallons of the stuff per American grownup. That’s a number of beer. It’s additionally a number of electrical energy to energy its creation.
Given the totally different scales concerned in brewing, taking in every little thing from the comparatively “residence brew” qualities of smaller craft beer producers to the giants like Anheuser-Busch, it’s powerful to get actual figures, however it’s in all probability greater than you suppose. Making beer is surprisingly energy-intensive. In accordance with a survey carried out earlier this decade, common power consumption is roughly 207 megaJoules per 100 liters of beer that’s produced. This breaks right down to round zero.2 kilowatt-hours per bottle, which means that, as one analyst put it, “Your six pack in all probability was made with sufficient power to run [a 40-inch Energy Star TV] for 20 hours.”
These numbers have been coming down in recent times, due to new power effectivity measures, however progress was nonetheless sluggish. Then, in 2017, Anheuser-Busch introduced that it was going to make it possible for all of its bought electrical energy got here from renewable sources by 2025, mixed with a discount of 25% of CO2 emissions throughout the whole upstream and downstream provide chain. On the time, it wasn’t solely clear how that this was potential. With the addition of the brand new photo voltaic farm, Anheuser-Busch is displaying that not solely is it potential; it’s really managing to beat its personal self-imposed goal by near half a decade.
“… They need to know that they’re shopping for from an organization that’s accountable.”
“This newest announcement is thrilling for us as a result of it’s what’s going to ship on that 100% mark for the whole North America zone,” Slaughter mentioned. “That’s all the electrical energy that we supply within the U.S.”
Not all the firm’s sustainable power will come from solar energy. The 650 gigawatt hours yearly that the brand new plant will churn out quantities to round half of the full power calls for that the corporate has in a typical yr. The remainder comes from a wind farm in Oklahoma, which is already operational. Collectively, this 50% photo voltaic and 50% wind power combine provides as much as the 100% benchmark Anheuser-Busch has touted.
A 5 billion yr contract
Information of the milestone was introduced earlier this month at an occasion celebrating World Atmosphere Day. At a devoted press convention in Fairfield, CA, CEO Michel Doukeris signed a “five-billion yr” contract with the Solar (the estimated time remaining earlier than the star on the heart of our photo voltaic system burns out) to offer power to the brand new plant. This signing course of was carried out utilizing heliography, a method during which mirrors and lenses focus daylight, to signal the contract on a particular wood plaque.
A barely goofy stunt? Definitely. However whereas corporations embracing renewable power sources would in all probability want to keep away from phrases like “stunt,” typically an attention-grabbing stunt is simply what’s wanted. In a sea of press releases touting marginal enhancements to sustainability efforts, it’s a cannon blast to indicate that a large leap has been made.
“Shoppers typically have gotten more and more educated round these questions of sustainability,” Slaughter mentioned. “They’re asking for this. They need to know every little thing in regards to the merchandise that they’re shopping for, they usually need to know that they’re shopping for from an organization that’s accountable.”
Anheuser-Busch isn’t, it needs to be famous, the one firm to proclaim that each one of its power wants are actually met sustainably. Each Google and Apple are two excessive profile tech corporations which have achieved 100% renewables. They had been joined, in Could final yr, by the LEGO Group, which managed to beat its personal goal date three years forward of schedule. All of those corporations showcase how breakthroughs in fields like photo voltaic power, significantly by way of better effectivity and reducing prices, are actually paying off.
For a beverage firm the scale of Anheuser-Busch, nevertheless, this can be a world-first — though Slaughter mentioned that she definitely needs that it gained’t be the final. “I hope that we encourage all of our rivals, and totally different individuals within the business, to maneuver on this identical route,” she famous.