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Duke Energy recently announced that it is speeding up its effort to reduce climate change with a new target to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation to net-zero by 2050. The company has also sped up its goal for decreasing emissions by 2030 from 40 percent to at least 50 percent.
“It’s important to commit to more now to set the wheels in motion for the future,” said Vicky Sullivan, Duke Energy’s environmental policy lead for climate and air issues.
Since 2005, Duke Energy has reduced carbon emissions by 31 percent, which meets or exceeds the standards of the former Clean Power Plan and the 2025 U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement. The company has achieved this reduction by adding renewables, including reaching 4 gigawatts of solar capacity, retiring coal units and replacing them with cleaner natural gas.
Duke Energy’s new goal is to get as close to zero carbon emissions as possible by 2050. With evolving technologies such as carbon capture, some residual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are likely, so the company will evaluate the need for offsets or credits in later years as needed to be net-zero.
“We know our customers want clean energy at an affordable price, so we want to allow time for good dialogue among regulators, customers, communities, shareholders and us as we work toward this common goal,” Sullivan added.
Duke Energy’s initiatives will continue to be customized in each state. In Indiana, for example, a new solar leasing program is offered, while in South Carolina, customers can share solar energy.
The company’s ongoing strategy will consist of doubling its portfolio of solar, wind and other renewables by 2025. Natural gas and existing nuclear energy will be critical as coal units are phased out.
While Duke Energy expects to achieve substantial reductions in carbon emissions with today’s technology, it will need new technologies to achieve net zero. These include longer-lasting energy storage (months rather than hours), commercial-scale and cost-effective carbon capture and storage, and new nuclear technologies.
“All in all, this is an incredibly exciting and dynamic time to be in the energy business,” Sullivan said. “As more and more utilities, regulators and communities grapple with how to make decisions to address climate change, we’ll have to collaborate on R&D investments, policies and regulatory models that navigate this new reality.”
For more information, visit www.duke-energy.com.