Duke Energy plans to cut carbon emissions 40% from 2005 levels by 2030

Dive Brief:

  • Duke Energy this week announced plans to invest billions in clean energy and lower its carbon emissions by 40% compared to 2005 levels over the next 15 years. The company is already 30% below the 2005 baseline.
  • In its 2016 Sustainability Report, the utility said it is planning $11 billion in investments and is on track to own or contract for 8,000 MW of wind, solar or biomass capacity by 2020.
  • The company also announced a new goal, to lower carbon intensity by 45% versus 2005 output. Last year, Duke achieved an almost 25% reduction in carbon intensity versus 2005.

Dive Insight:

North Carolina-based Duke Energy still uses significant coal-fired power, but the utility is looking to clean up its mix and its reputation with a hefty investment plan targeting greater renewables.

Gas provides about 28% of Duke's electricity needs today, along with 34% from nuclear and 4% from hydropower, wind and solar. Along with the a reduction in coal use and system modernization, the utility has managed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 29% since 2005, and is now targeting even greater reductions.

By 2030, the utility forecasts its fuel mix will be 28% coal/oil, 36% natural gas, 28% nuclear and 9% hydro, wind and solar. 

At the end of last year, Duke had 5,400 MW of carbon-free resources, about 1,000 MW above last year's mark. The company said it is on target to recycle 80% of its solid waste by 2018, and currently, recycles 76% of the solid waste produced.

In North and South Carolina, the utility is still struggling with coal ash disposal. Earlier this year Duke indicated cleanup costs could exceed $5 billion over the next several years — about 50% higher than previous estimates.

Duke's sustainability report says the company has "made tremendous progress closing our coal ash basins," and last year excavated and stored over 5 million tons of coal ash in North Carolina, along with announcing two coal ash reprocessing locations, with another to come.

Some advocates and communities near coal plants want to see the company do more, however, such as excavating all coal ash basins and moving the contents to lined landfills. The Southern Environmental Law Center plans to sue the company for its ash disposal practices near the Mayo coal plant and other facilities.

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Filed Under: Generation Regulation & Policy
Top image credit: Calpine