Duke Energy Becomes Largest Utility to Date to Seek Net-Zero Emissions

IBM, Oncor Team Up for Predictive Utility Maintenance

Last week, Duke Energy, Charlotte, N.C., announced that it plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is an updated climate strategy for the utility. The company is also accelerating its near-term goal by cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by half or more from 2005 levels by 2030. These announcements come on the heels of the utility’s work in reducing carbon emissions by 31% since 2005.

“The company’s 2017 goal to reduce carbon emissions 40% by 2030 was one of the industry’s most ambitious at the time,” said Duke in a press release. “Since then, sustained, 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, Duke’s 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.”

Duke expects to be able to achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions by 2050 with technology that already exists today. However, more will be needed. “Getting to net-zero carbon emissions, while ensuring energy remains reliable and affordable, will require new technologies,” Good said. “That’s the very reason we need to act now. We must continue leveraging today’s technologies while sustaining investment in innovation for this vision to become a reality.”

To become net-zero by 2050, Duke plans to employ a number of tactics to balance pace, cost, reliability and innovation.

First, the utility plans to quicken their transition to clean energy by at least doubling their portfolio of solar, wind and other renewables by 2025. The release says the company will continue to deploy low-cost natural gas, to hasten this transition without losing reliability. The company also recommitted to expanding their growing energy storage, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Duke also plans to modernize their electric grid and is investing in efforts to develop a smarter more resilient one that can protect against extreme weather and cyber or physical attacks.

As for coal, it is becoming a thing of the past for Duke. In the press release, the company noted that it has already retired 49 coal-fired units, totaling 6,190 megawatts, since 2010, replacing these with renewables and natural gas.

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