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Brewer CUB contracts 112MW solar farm, on way to 100% renewables

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Australia’s biggest brewing company, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), has begun its shift to 100 per cent renewable energy by signing a contract with the new 112MW Karadoc solar farm in Victoria.

The deal with German renewable energy developer BayWa will be closely followed by rooftop solar at all the brewing company’s sites in Australia, part of a plan to reach the 100 per cent target by the end of this year and to lock in lower electricity costs.

“This represents an important step in CUB’s commitment to 100 per cent of its electricity being sourced from renewables,” says Jan Craps, the CEO of CUB.

“As one of Australia’s first and leading manufacturing businesses, we have a responsibility to ensure we play our part in tackling climate change and a range of environmental challenges.”

The push by CUB to 100 per cent renewable energy extends the growing list of businesses, including major manufacturers and large energy users in Australia and overseas, to turn to wind and solar to lock in low electricity costs.

“Beyond our driving commitment to reduce our emissions, the investment also stacks up when you look at the reduced price we will pay to power our operations,” Craps says.

“Moving to renewable energy will ensure that we have certainty of supply and pricing, something that is incredibly important for a manufacturing business like ours.”

Already, UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has unveiled plans to roll out more than 1GW of solar, plus a new “world’s biggest” battery near Port Augusta and pumped hydro storage as part of his plans to revitalise the Whyalla steelworks and slash that plant’s electricity costs by 40 per cent.

Gupta plans a similar rollout at its steel operations in Victoria and NSW, while Queensland zinc refiner Sun Metals will soon open a 116MW solar farm to help underpin its expansion plans and keep a lid on costs.

Telstra, one of the country’s big electricity users, has signed contracts with the huge Murra Warra wind farm in Victoria – along with ANZ and CC Amatil – and has also signed a contract for the soon to be completed Emerald solar farm in Queensland.

The push by CUB is part of a global push by its owner Anheuser-Busch In-Bev, to aim for 100 per cent renewable energy for its entire operations by 2025, as we reported here in our sister site One Step Off The Grid.

But CUB’s head of sustainability Jan Clysner, said he hoped to reach 100 per cent by the end of the year, once the Karadoc solar farm is completed and the rooftop solar installed. “It’s a bit of stretch, but that’s how we get to the best results,” he told RenewEconomy.

“It makes sense commercially, and it’s the right thing to do for the environment. That’s why we are pushing as fast as possible.”

Clysner said the use of solar would lower the electricity bill compared to what they pay today, but wouldn’t reveal details of the contract with BayWa.

Brewers around the world are following suit. MillerCoors has contracted solar in California, and Heineken has a 70% renewables target for 2030. Currently it’s at 23 per cent.

In Australia, any number of boutique brewers are taking similar paths – both for environmental credential and to lower electricity costs. These include Collingwood-based Stomping Ground Brewing Co, Young Henry’s and Bright Brewery.

CUB has signed a 12 year power purchase agreement for less than half of the output of the Karadoc solar farm in Mildura, but says this will account for nearly 90 per cent of its total electricity needs. The rest can be met with rooftop solar.

The deal with BayWa is the result of a tender by Foster’s for the delivery of its renewable energy needs. A total of 15 different companies were talked to, both wind and solar.

The solar farm is being built now by Melbourne-based Beon Energy Solutions. It says all facilities will remain on-grid.

CUB brews include Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Great Northern, Pure Blonde, Carlton Dry, Melbourne Bitter, Crown Lager, Cascade Premium Light, and the Yak Ales.

  

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  • Steve159

    You would think the LNP would be yelling about all these projects, from the rooftops — jobs, jobs, and wait for it, more jobs.

    The market is voting with its feet — yay, for capitalism which will see off the dirty polluting coal-stations at a fair clip.

  • George Darroch

    It won’t make their brews taste any better, but good on them for making the switch.

    • Joe

      Hang on, its gotta taste better if it is RE Beer!!!!

    • Chris Fraser

      If we All made the switch back, consider how quickly would All the Brewers convert ?

  • trackdaze

    Guilt free, kind of..

  • Carl Raymond S

    Yay. 100% RE is the target we need to see, everywhere. 50% RE is also known as 50% polluting – like reduced wife beating, better but not acceptable.

    • Steve159

      Nope, disagree!

      With our vast solar resources, we could easily go 150 – 200% and be exporting a gazillion whatevers of hydrogen, ammonia, synthetic fuel.

      SA is or was planning to do that with their electrolysis plant (export h2 OS at rates competitive to LNG).

      • heinbloed

        This is what BayWa is doing, their PV-capacities are far higher than what the brewery needs.
        What is left over is sold on the power market.

      • Ian

        Why export synthetic fuel when you can export beer?

  • Ern Meharry

    Well done Fosters

  • MrMauricio

    Shows the lies perpetrated by the Liberals at the S.A election.(Renewable power is more expensive they trumpeted ably amplified by their corporate media fellow travelers)

  • Chris Fraser

    This’ll be good information this weekend, when REaders will partake of any number of backyard barbecues around Australia, with no doubt a cleansing Ale nearby. And some dork will ask “Name me one Brewery that runs on wind and solar …”

  • michael nolan

    If the LNP don’t 1) support the build of lowest cost Renewables and storage at a sufficient rate , 2) create more competition and get ACCC involved on AGL and Origin and 3) get elec prices down in relation to transmission and distribution , ….then industry and households will desert the grid and we have ‘the death spiral’. This is the CUB example.

    By year 2020, Solar/Wind + Batteries/Pumped Hydro costs $55 / MWH for electricity wholesale price at scale.

    • Rod

      Householders have been subsidising electricity for the big and even worse, the very big energy users for a long time.
      That will only get worse and I think the death spiral is inevitable unless BTM storage is able to compete in the market.

    • Jon

      They are not deserting the grid, “It says all facilities will remain on-grid.”

      They are changing their chosen generator.

      The grid will remain as important as now for a long time, it’s vey cost inefficient for a premises to be able to store enough power to operate over several consecutive cloudy days.

  • Dennis Abbott..

    Good on ya CUB. I used to be a fan of Coopers, however, Dr Tim Cooper’s continual spruiking of nuclear energy (or should I say unclear energy) has led to a self imposed boycott of any Coopers product. I drink Yak ales now.

    • Crankydaks

      Great advertising by CUB I must admit. But tell me how they separate the clean green electrons coming down the wire from the filthy black ones?

      • They put them on the same conveyor belt as the hops.

  • Simon

    How does this arrangement account for the energy use at night by CUB? It would not be possible to meet overnight energy demands through solar without storage, so I assume this “100% of energy” arrangement is just a total volume of annual usage equal to total volume of solar output regardless of time of day?

    Either way great to see this happening, and good to see that it provides both carbon and financial benefits.

    • Ian

      I have asked a similar question about Telstra’s PPA. They might lock-in a price for the output of this solar farm, but do they use the output when it’s produced? The whole debate is about the mismatch between supply and demand of electricity, the need for storage, interconnection, curtailment etc etc. Are these people locking in the cost of the low hanging fruit while the rest of us must be content with the hard to reach parts of the renewables transition? Can I as an individual lock-in low prices with a wind farm using a mini-PPA for cheap low cost lecky 24/7, storage and time shifting paid for by other suckers – I don’t think so!

      But, hey, this might be the cost we have to absorb to get wind and solar across the line.

      • Steve159

        there are already retailers who supply renewable energy such as Enova Community Energy, Powershop. Not sure what your point is.

        • Simon

          Powershop offset their supplied energy with renewables to be ‘100% renewable’, but I don’t believe the energy being used overnight correlates with renewables generation or with purchasing stored renewable energy from batteries overnight. Not taking away from Powershop or the others, but is an accounting mechanism only to offset the bulk total volume (I imagine some would correlate with overnight usage through some wind) with bulk renewables generation . Ian’s point is correct that we can claim ‘100%’ through just bulk offsets but it does not equate to a real world 100% renewable grid which requires someone to foot the bill for storage and load shifting.

          My understanding of a proper solar PPA is is that is only for the energy output and used at each time interval during the day on the National Electricity Market, so anyone with an overnight load cannot source 100% of their energy from solar through a true PPA.

  • michael nolan

    I agree Jon that investing in alternative power supply doesn’t mean going off grid. But Elec suppliers revenue will drop and they will have to charge more service costs ( like water authorities do) All the more reason for AGL origin and co to provide a complete renewables service with dispatch ables / storage at a low cost so that manufacturers & electricity users don’t need to own generators.