Duke Energy recently announced an updated climate strategy with a new goal of net-zero carbon emission from electric generation by midcentury. The company is also accelerating its near-term goal by cutting its carbon dioxide emission by half or more from the 2005 levels by 2030.
The company has reduced carbon emission by 31% since 2005, meeting or exceeding the standards of the former Clean Power Plan and the 2025 U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement.
The company's 2017 goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 was one of the industry's most ambitious at the time. Since then, sustained low natural gas prices and declining costs for renewables and storage have allowed the company to scale up 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, the chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy. "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."
To achieve its goals, the company needs to pair today's technologies with the research and development needed for tomorrow. Duke Energy expects it can achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions by 2050 with the technology that exists today.
"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."
Path to a net-zero carbon future
Duke Energy has listed the following steps to ensure an "appropriate balance between pace and cost, reliability and innovation":
"Collaborate and align with our states and stakeholders as we transform. The steps and timeline for this transition will be unique in each state we serve, and we will collaborate with regulators, customers and other stakeholders to determine the right path.
Accelerate our transition to cleaner energy solutions. We are planning to at least double our portfolio of solar, wind and other renewables by 2025. We will continue deploying 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. We'll continue expanding energy storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicle infrastructure.
Continue to operate our existing carbon-free technologies, including nuclear and renewables. Our nuclear fleet's nearly 11,000 megawatts of carbon-free generation in the Carolinas is central to our ability to meet these goals. That's enough energy to serve 7 million homes.
Modernize our electric grid. The company 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."
Since 2010, Duke Energy has replaced 49 coal-fired units totalling 6190MW with natural gas and renewables.
The company will work with regulators and stakeholders in the states it serves and will outline the proposed steps in its resource plans. Phasing out remaining coal generation will occur gradually and on different timelines to protect customer rates and reliability.
Climate and energy leaders expressed their support for Duke Energy's updated goals.