Duke Energy says it could completely phase out coal-fired power plants by 2050. By then, the utility expects to be generating electricity through a mix of other sources, including nuclear and gas-fired plants, and wind and solar farms. That possible scenario came in a special Climate Report to Shareholders published Thursday.
The report says Duke has reduced carbon emissions by 31 percent since 2005, and is on track toward a 72 percent reduction by 2050. Whether it gets there will depend in part on winning regulatory approval to re-license its fleet of nuclear plants in the coming years, the report says.
Duke has been retiring old coal-fired plants and replacing them with modern gas-fired plants, which it says are cleaner than coal. Eliminating coal plants by 2050 is possible under a complex scenario that depends on new technologies, demand for electricity and energy efficiency, a spokesman says.
Environmentalists and critics want Duke to convert to 100 percent renewable energy. The company addresses that in the report, saying it doesn't believe that's possible while still reliably delivering power.
"Recent research supports that a decarbonized energy system would require a mix of technologies. Renewables will be an important part of that mix, but we do not believe 100 percent renewables can reliably deliver the power required by a modern economy," the report says. "Similarly, we do not advocate for 100 percent natural gas or nuclear energy."
See the full report on Duke Energy's website at Duke-Energy.com.
The headline on this story has been updated to clarify that eliminating coal plants by 2050 is a possibility, not a plan. This update also also corrects the name of the report.