August 07, 2020


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Duke Energy has committed to reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.


Duke Energy’s path to a net-zero carbon future means that the company will continue adding clean energy resources to its system and making deep cuts in carbon emissions. The company has already made significant progress toward its goals, reducing CO2 emissions 39% between 2005 and 2019, ahead of the industry average of 33%.

In April 2020, Duke Energy released its 2020 Climate Report, which reviews the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and discusses a scenario under which the company would achieve its net-zero 2050 goal. Concurrently, and in support of this transition, the company set a goal of doubling its portfolio of owned, operated, or contracted solar, wind, and biomass by 2025 (from 8,100 Megawatts to more than 16,000 Megawatts).

The 2020 Climate Report concludes that Duke Energy is on track to achieve its 2030 goal of reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation by at least 50% from 2005 levels. It also illustrates that the path to net-zero will require unprecedented investments in renewable energy and energy storage; deployment of low-cost natural gas to speed the transition from coal and maintain reliability; and extension of the operation of the company’s nearly 11,000 megawatts of carbon-free nuclear generation.

In addition, the company is pursuing vital advancements in load management and rate design (energy efficiency and demand-side management) and investing in a smarter and more resilient grid that can protect against extreme weather and cyberattacks or physical attacks. These grid improvements support integrating more renewables while avoiding outages and providing customers with more control over their energy use. This transition will also require further substantial investments in the company’s transmission and distribution systems.

Importantly, the analysis also concludes that the path to net-zero requires the availability of advanced very low and zero-carbon technologies that can be dispatched to meet energy demand. These zero-emitting load-following resources (ZELFRs) will need to be installed as early as 2035 and can include technologies such as advanced nuclear; carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS); hydrogen and other gases; and long-duration energy storage.


Commercializing and deploying new ZELFR technologies by the mid-2030s will require a concerted effort by both government and private industry. Duke Energy is actively involved in efforts to advance research, development, demonstration, and deployment of these advanced technologies. For example, the company is a founding member and anchor sponsor of the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI’s) and Gas Technology Institute’s Low-Carbon Resource Initiative, a five-year effort to accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies to achieve deep decarbonization.

Duke Energy is a founding member of the Edison Electric Institute’s Carbon-Free Technology Initiative, which is partnering with several non-governmental organizations to identify areas for advocacy to ensure adequate federal research and funding for advanced technologies.

The company has participated in extensive research over the past few years on CCUS, advanced nuclear, and energy storage. For instance, it participated in a study of membrane-based carbon capture at its East Bend facility in Kentucky. The company is also a member of the Carbon Utilization Research Council and involved with both the Midwest Regional Carbon Capture Deployment Initiative and the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership. Duke Energy has also been involved with over a dozen battery storage pilots since 2010 and has actively evaluated long-duration chemistries since 2016. Additionally, it participates in the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Advanced Reactor Working Group and SMR Start program, as well as EPRI’s Advanced Nuclear Technology Program. Duke Energy staff are represented on the reactor developer advisory boards of NuScale, Terrestrial Energy, and Kairos Power.

Duke Energy, along with more than 20 other utilities, has been engaged for more than two years in an EPRI project called Understanding Climate Scenario and Goal Setting Activities. This project is developing a technical knowledge base for informed dialogue and decision making regarding climate-related scenario analysis and science-based target setting. Based on the results of this project, Duke Energy concluded that the pathway it analyzed in its 2020 Climate Report to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is consistent with scenarios limiting global average temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius and consistent with scenarios limiting global average temperature increase to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Duke Energy’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also involves helping lower emissions from the transportation sector. The company has filed a proposal with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to launch a three-year, $76 million initiative aimed at building electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure to boost EV adoption in North Carolina. If approved, the initiative would help fund the adoption of electric school buses and electric public transportation, and would lead to almost 2,500 new charging stations in the state. Similar pilot programs are being considered by regulators in South Carolina ($10 million) and Ohio ($16 million). The company also expects to have installed more than 500 charging stations in Florida by 2022.

For more information, visit Duke Energy’s climate page and its 2020 Climate Report.