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By Gabriela Mello
SAO PAULO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Ambev SA said on Friday it has signed a deal with a private equity group to build a wind farm that will supply renewable energy to all of its beverage plants in Northeastern Brazil, as well as to its five Budweiser breweries across the country.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ambev is expected to pay around 600 million reais ($145 million) over a 15-year period to Casaforte Investimentos, which in turn will build a 1,600 hectare wind farm in Bahia state exceeding 80 megawatts in capacity.
"This power purchase agreement will cut 20,000 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is the equivalent of removing 35,000 cars from the streets per year," Ambev's vice president for sustainability and supply chain, Rodrigo Figueiredo, told Reuters in an interview.
All construction licenses have been granted and work begins early next year, with the wind farm likely to start operations in the beginning of 2022, he added. The complex will generate about 30% of its Brazilian breweries' power needs.
The move is part of a global effort by parent company Anheuser Busch InBev to have all of its operations run by renewable energy sources by 2025, and follows previous sustainability initiatives.
In Brazil, Ambev has invested around 17.5 billion reais over the last five years, including projects to adopt an even more eco-friendly business practices.
In June, Ambev struck a 140 million reais deal with four partners to build 31 solar plants that will power all of the brewing company's 94 distribution centers in Brazil.
Last year, Latin America's largest brewer announced plans to add 1,600 Volkswagen electric trucks to its logistics operators' fleet in Brazil by 2023.
Figueiredo said all of the solar plants are expected to be delivered in the first half of 2020. Besides solar and wind farms, he noted, Ambev is also studying other renewable energy sources, such as biomass.
"This time we have chosen a wind farm because it is more viable for high voltage, but we are conducting studies for other regions and the technology will depend on the conditions," the executive added.
Ambev's latest announcement comes months after Heineken's Brazilian subsidiary invested 40 million reais in a wind farm located in the Northeastern-state of Ceara.
($1 = 4.1352 reais) (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)