The owner-operator of regulated utilities in six states, Duke Energy's renewable energy generation increased 11 percent in 2018. Nearly 38 percent of Duke Energy's energy mix is now carbon-free, according to the company's 13th annual Sustainability Report.
Duke expressed its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to levels consistent with the U.N. Paris Climate Agreement in its 2017 Climate Report. Its strategic plan is centered on retiring coal-fired power plants and increasing its investments in renewables, battery technologies, energy efficiency and natural gas. Furthermore, Duke considers its fleet of carbon emissions-free nuclear power plants as "the workhorse of our fleet" and "an essential part of any equation for a low-carbon future".
“Duke Energy is successfully reducing our environmental impact while keeping electric prices low for customers,” said Cari Boyce, senior vice president, stakeholder strategy and sustainability. “It’s not a question of clean or affordable. We’re safely and reliably achieving both.”
Duke Energy and sustainability
Duke Energy's Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit consists of regulated utilities in six states— North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky— that serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers. In addition, the parent company's Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states— North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. Then there's Duke Energy Renewables, an unregulated subsidiary that operates wind and solar generation facilities and undertakes energy storage and microgrid projects across the U.S..
Duke cited the following as highlights of its 2018 Sustainability Report:
- In the six states where Duke Energy has retail electric customers, the company’s electric rates were below the national averages, according to data from the Edison Electric Institute.
Duke Energy relies on a balanced energy mix that includes carbon-free nuclear, lower-cost natural gas, hydroelectric and coal. In 2018, nearly 38 percent of the energy produced by the company was carbon-free.
- Duke Energy owned and purchased renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power) was equivalent to roughly 9.3 percent of its generation mix in 2018 – reflecting an 11 percent increase compared to 2017.
- The company’s use of coal has dropped more than 50 percent from 2008 to 2018 – from 63 million tons annually to 29 million tons. The use of cleaner-burning and lower-cost natural gas has spurred much of that reduction.
- Duke Energy’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions remained roughly flat in 2018 despite producing 2 percent more energy versus the previous year. The company’s carbon intensity, the amount of CO2 produced per kilowatt-hour generated, fell 2 percent from the previous year. Overall, the company’s carbon emissions have dropped 31 percent since 2005.
- Duke Energy established new goals in the report. One is to reduce water withdrawals by its generation fleet by 1 trillion gallons by 2030 – compared to its 2016 mark of 5.34 trillion gallons.
- Duke Energy is also investing more in energy storage. The company is looking to install more than 400 megawatts (MW) of battery storage over the next 15 years. Today, work is underway at the Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station in South Carolina to increase its pumped storage output by more than 300 MW.