Major Southeast utilities will achieve just 9% solar power by 2030, group projects say – pv magazine USA
Five major Southeast utilities won’t achieve zero-carbon production until 2071 or later, an environmental group projects.
“Every year counts,” says the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), in a study projecting when five major utilities in the region will achieve carbon-free generation.
Solar generation at the five utilities will only reach 9% by 2030, and wind generation will only reach 1%, according to the study. Gas production will continue to increase until 2030, while coal production will decrease by 12% to 6%.
SACE reviewed the most recent 10-year resource plans for the five utilities, which showed modest clean energy progress through 2030. If each utility’s progress continued at the same rate thereafter, they would reach their Clean energy targets announced by 2071 or later, the study found, as shown below. By comparison, SACE said, the scientific consensus is that global emissions must peak by 2025, decline rapidly and reach net zero by 2050 to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, citing a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ).
The IPCC report was “really clear” that the first step to achieving the goals it has set for itself is to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure, said Maggie Shober, director of the reform of public services at SACE, during a webinar. The SACE report graphically depicted the projected decarbonization trajectory for each utility, compared to trajectories to zero by 2030 or 2050, such as in the graph to the right for Southern Company.
While new fossil gas plants planned by many utilities emit less carbon dioxide than coal plants, Shober said, upstream methane emissions from gas production and distribution, which SACE has estimated between 1% and 5%, “make the calculations much more difficult”. to justify these new gasworks. The cost of solar power continues to fall, while the cost of storage is falling rapidly, she added.
Words and deeds
SACE highlighted each of the five utilities’ recent actions with respect to renewable energy deployment, stating that:
- As NextEra Energy, parent company of Florida Power & Light, announced a company-wide goal to achieve carbon-free energy by 2045, an FPL lobbyist penned the text of a draft Florida’s rooftop anti-solar bill, a bill that was ultimately vetoed by the governor.
- Duke Energy aims to achieve net zero by 2050. The utility is required by North Carolina law to reduce CO2emissions from power generation in the state by 70% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050, but only one of four scenarios in the “carbon plan” offered by the service audience would reach the 70% target by 2030.
- Southern Company is on track to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. The expected “significant” emissions reduction comes from the Plant Vogtle nuclear units under construction.
- Dominion South Carolina parent company aims to achieve net zero CO2 and methane emissions from its power generation by 2050. Regulators in South Carolina rejected the utility’s first 2020 resource plan, requiring it to model renewable energy additions before 2026.
- The Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned utility, is ‘aiming’ for an 80% carbon reduction by 2035, while an executive order from President Biden calls on the federal government to pursue 100% clean energy from by 2035. TVA’s latest resource plan used now-outdated 2018 cost data for renewables, and the utility recently announced plans to replace a coal plant with a gas plant.
Shober said in the webinar that citizens could influence the pace of decarbonizing their utility by working to improve utility resource plans, both by engaging with groups like SACE and learning who are the regulators of their utility, finding out where they stand on decarbonization, and getting involved in choosing those regulators, where possible.
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