Duke Energy commits to net-zero transition by 2050


US utility Duke Energy has announced an updated climate strategy with a new goal of net-zero carbon emissions from electric generation by 2050.

The company also is accelerating its near-term goal by cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by half or more from 2005 levels by 2030.

The utility has reduced carbon emissions by 31% since 2005.

The company’s 2017 goal to reduce carbon emissions 40% by 2030 was deemed a tough challenge, but low natural gas prices and declining costs for renewables and storage have allowed the company to accelerate that goal to at least 50% by 2030.

“We are making a cleaner energy future a reality for our customers and communities,” said Lynn Good, chairman, president and CEO. “A diverse mix of renewables, nuclear, natural gas, hydro and energy efficiency are all part of this vision, and we’ll take advantage of economical solutions to continue that progress. In the longer-term, innovation and new technologies will be critical to a net-zero carbon future.”

“Getting to net-zero carbon emissions, while ensuring energy remains reliable and affordable, will require new technologies. That’s the very reason we need to act now,” Good said. “We must continue leveraging today’s technologies while sustaining investment in innovation for this vision to become reality.”

Duke Energy’s path to a net-zero carbon future:

  • Collaborate and align with states and stakeholders, noting the unique requirements of each state Duke serves, whilst collaborating with regulators, customers and other stakeholders.
  • Accelerate the transition to cleaner energy solutions by doubling the portfolio of solar, wind and other renewables by 202, and the use of low-cost natural gas to speed the transition from coal and maintain reliability. New natural gas infrastructure will be required to fuel this transition and balance renewables.
  • Continued expansion of energy storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Continued operation of existing carbon-free technologies, including nuclear and renewables.
  • Grid modernisation investments – Duke is investing in a multiyear effort to create a smarter and more resilient grid that can protect against extreme weather and cyber or physical attacks. These grid improvements also support adding more renewables, while avoiding outages and providing customers more control over their energy use.
  • Advocate for sound public policy that advances technology and innovation. This includes advanced renewable energy, longer-lasting storage, new nuclear technologies, low- and zero-carbon fuels and effective ways to capture carbon emissions.
  • The company also will support permitting reforms that will enable new technologies to be deployed.

Transforming energy infrastructure is no small task, and these steps will enable the appropriate balance between pace and cost, reliability and innovation.

Duke Energy customers benefit from a diverse mix of energy sources that have kept electricity prices well below the national average. This has allowed the company to retire 49 coal-fired units totalling 6,190 megawatts since 2010, replacing those with flexible natural gas and growing renewables.

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Duke will work with regulators and stakeholders in the states it serves and will outline proposed steps in the resource plans it files. Phasing out remaining coal generation will occur gradually and on different timelines in the states Duke Energy serves to protect customer rates and reliability.

“Over the past 12 months, we’ve witnessed rapid growth in the number of U.S. electric utilities making commitments to significant carbon-reduction goals. We congratulate Duke Energy for their announcement joining this group. As one of the nation’s largest utilities, their commitment will have a meaningful impact on efforts to achieve a carbon-free energy system.” — Julia Hamm, president and CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance

For details on the company’s comprehensive approach to tackling climate change through adaptation, mitigation and innovation, visit duke-energy.com/climate.