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Budweiser goes windy with virtue signaling Super Bowl ad intended to make you think the beer is beer is green, but it actually uses gas to make that beer.
The bigger corporations get and the more international they are, the more likely they are to imagine politically correct virtue signaling is somehow good business. It’s not, of course. It’s much more about peer pressure and when you’re owned by Europeans or managed by the sort of people who want to rub shoulders with elites at the next World Economic Forum in Davos, there’s a high likelihood you’ll want to antagonize some of your customers by virtue signaling to others. Budweiser officially joined this corporate potlatch club during the Super Bowl with a commercial suggesting it would be making its beer with wind energy, which isn’t quite true. It’ll be using gas.
Here’s the Super Bowl commercial:
And, here is the truth from InsideSources (emphasis added):
But is it true? Is Budweiser really made with 100 percent wind power?
“I doubt that Budweiser is being honest in their claim it uses 100 percent wind energy to brew its beer, the more likely case being it buys carbon offsets to assuage their very Belgian guilt,” Daniel Turner, executive director of Power the Future, tells InsideSources. He points out that, even if the brewery itself runs on all renewable electricity, “the harvesting of grains, shipping, transportation, and even the glass bottles and labels are very much dependent on fossil fuels.”
In its ad, Budweiser is very careful with its words. “Renewable energy from electricity is one type of energy we use to brew,” reads the bottom text which switches to the boilerplate warning about drinking responsibly as the ad ends.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian brewer that produces Budweiser, announced in March, 2017 that by 2025 all of the electricity it purchases will come from renewable sources, which they believe will reduce the company’s carbon footprint by 30 percent. The company has even launched a new logo to better promote its “100 percent renewable” status…
In the U.S., Budweiser is cutting out the middleman, sourcing its power from the Thunder Ranch wind farm in Oklahoma. Later this year the company plans to sign a smaller deal to get 490 gigawatt hours annually from a wind farm in Mexico. This will make American Budweiser the first beer produced by the company to rely solely on wind power. But what does that actually mean?
“This is a ‘virtual’ purchase power agreement (PPA) with Enel Green Power for energy produced by the Thunder Ranch wind farm in Oklahoma which commenced delivery on Jan 1, 2018…” the company states. “Through this agreement, we purchase enough renewable electricity delivered to the grid as is used to brew more than 20 billion 12 oz servings of beer each year.”
The careful language implies that Budweiser is buying energy credits, rather than the power itself. This allows the brewer to maintain a consistent supply of electricity even on days with uncooperative weather…
Meanwhile, the heat that Budweiser needs comes from more conventional sources, including natural gas. The company explains that it it working to transition to “low carbon sources” including biogas and landfill gas, but does not include information on its website as to how close it has gotten.
This is how the scam always works. A company throws some money at a renewable project to put gas into the grid that may or may not be valuable at the time it’s delivered and is also subsidized by other ratepayers and taxpayers. That means the company effectively buys below cost and, therefore, imposes additional costs on other energy producers and utilities who are forced to take the wind energy, even though they may not need it.
The result is a completed distorted market. Moreover, because the wind energy is erratic, natural gas or some other dispatchable energy source is needed to provide the real thing consumed by Budweiser. And, if it’s not capable of fully replacing the energy not blowin’ in the wind, there is a real danger Bud won’t be able to make enough beer. Now, that’s a crisis!
This is the real world of wind energy, which has a very low capacity factor compared to gas. It’s not pretty when the wind doesn’t blow. Climate scientist Judith Curry, in fact, noted this in some recent testimony to a U.S. House of Representatives committee.
The recent record-breaking cold outbreak in the Midwest is a stark reminder of the challenges of providing a reliable power supply in the face of extreme weather events, where an inadequate power supply not only harms the economy, but jeopardizes lives and public safety. Last week, central Minnesota experienced a natural gas ‘brownout,’ as Xcel Energy advised customers to turn thermostats down to 60 degrees and avoid using hot water. Why? Because the wind wasn’t blowing during an exceptionally cold period. Utilities pair natural gas plants with wind farms, where the gas plants can be ramped up and down quickly when the wind isn’t blowing. With bitter cold temperatures and no wind, there wasn’t enough natural gas.
So, although that Super Bowl commercial might be nicely done, it really doesn’t tell us anything other than the fact Budweiser wants to impress a certain subset of its customers and, especially, other elites with whom management pals around. It’s really quite disingenuous, but our friend Mark Mathis at Clear Energy Alliance has a humorous take:
Yes, Budweiser, please just stick to making beer. We want it cheap and plentiful, with no virtue signaling, please!
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