It's a dung deal: Cow manure to power beer maker SAB

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Manure from over 7 000 cows will be used to generate renewable electricity for SAB.
Manure from over 7 000 cows will be used to generate renewable electricity for SAB.
John P Kelly/Getty Images
  • Beer maker South African Breweries has signed a power-purchase agreement with black-women owned biogas firm Bio2Watt.
  • The biogas plant, to be constructed in the Western Cape, will convert manure from over 7 000 cows to renewable electricity.
  • This contract will allow SAB to have 23% of its power supplied from renewables.

Beer maker South African Breweries (SAB) says it will soon be using the manure of over 7 000 cows to power its operations.

The company on Thursday issued a statement indicating it signed a power-purchase agreement with black-women-owned Bio2Watt.

The renewable energy will be produced from Bio2Watt's Cape Dairy Biogas Plant, located on one of South Africa's biggest dairy farms - Vyvlei Dairy Farm - in the Western Cape town of Malmesbury. 

The plant is part-funded by the Industrial Development Corporation, the Norwegian Investment Fund - Norfund, the Public Investment Corporation and Bio2Watt.

The plant is still being built and will be Bio2Watt's second commercial biogas project. The first project is located in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng.

The manure from the cows will be combined with other wastes from the surrounding region to produce biogas.

Biogas is produced from breaking down organic matter like biomass, manure, sewage, municipal waste, plant material and crops. It can be converted to heat and electricity.

A biogas plant converts waste to energy.
A biogas plant converts waste to energy.

READ | SAB wants excise tax relief - otherwise it may invest in African countries other than SA

"Under this power-purchase agreement and installed renewable electricity, SAB will achieve 23% contracted renewable electricity," said Conor Ruff, vice president of procurement and sustainability in Africa.

The project will support SAB's parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev's 2025 sustainability targets - to have 100% of its electricity sourced from renewables and reduce carbon emissions 25% across its value chain. It is intended to be utilised across multiple SAB operations, with power wheeled into the grid once the relevant wheeling agreements are concluded with Eskom and the respective municipalities. 

"We have made a global commitment to explore renewables to reduce carbon emissions and reach 100% contracted renewable electricity by 2025. We also believe we have a duty to ease the pressure on the national grid.

"Through this partnership, we are proud to progress on both fronts as we make our way to a cleaner, greener and more self-sustainable future," said SAB procurement director for Africa, Kyle Day.

SAB's Alrode brewery in Johannesburg makes use of biogas too.

All of SAB's other breweries use solar power.

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