Duke Energy Corp. announced it plans to close its remaining coal-fired power plants, including several facilities in Indiana, by 2035 and more than double its renewable energy generation.
The company said the retirements would be the largest in the industry, affecting 11 plants in the Midwest, the Carolinas and Florida.
Duke Energy will also expand its renewable energy generation from 10 gigawatts to 24 gigawatts by 2030.
The company announced its intentions in Indiana in December, when it submitted its Integrated Resource Plan to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
It said it would invest $52 billion through 2026 nationwide to fund investments in transitioning its fleet of power plants and grid modernization.
“This will improve reliability and resiliency as we add more renewables to the system and extend the life of our carbon-free nuclear fleet to better serve our growing customer base,” said Steve Young, Duke Energy vice president and chief financial officer. “As coal is phased out from our generation profile, it will be replaced with zero-carbon resources and prudent investments in cleaner natural gas.”
Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good said the company’s moves would greatly reduce its carbon emissions in Indiana by 2040.
“As the largest generator in the state of Indiana, we are retiring more coal and adding more renewables than any other Indiana utility. Our preferred scenario reduces carbon emissions from our Indiana fleet by 63% by 2030 and 88% by 2040 compared to 2005 levels. It adds over 7 gigawatts of renewables over the 20-year horizon and accelerates the retirement of coal generation with a targeted exit from coal by 2035,” Good said.
Good said the company expects a “robust review” of the planned energy additions. The company will file for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, essentially a permit to approve construction of new generation facilities, with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission later this year.
The company’s plans for the future in Indiana involve an increasing reliance on natural gas to produce electricity. It plans to add 2,360 megawatts of natural gas generation, including the construction of a new 1,000-megawatt natural gas plant by 2027.
The company would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, but potentially increase its emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, a major driver of climate change. Methane is at least 25 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
The company said it is hoping to reduce emissions from its natural gas facilities by transitioning to hydrogen-enabled natural gas generation, a blend of natural gas that contains some hydrogen.
The technology currently exists, but large amounts of power are required to produce hydrogen, making it cost ineffective.
Good said the company is hoping to see advances in technology soon.
“The good news is we believe we have runway with existing technologies to achieve the majority of our aspirations around clean energy transition over the next five years or so. And, so, you're getting into the 2030s when those technologies would be more important to get to net-zero and the next tranche of carbon reduction. And so, I think time will tell on whether they get to commercial scale,” Good said.