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Major electric company sets goal for net-zero emissions by 2050

Major electric company sets goal for net-zero emissions by 2050
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A major electricity company has laid out plans to achieve a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by shifting away from some usage of fossil fuels. 

Duke Energy, which provides electricity to 7.7 million customers in six states, said Tuesday that it plans to reduce its emissions by phasing out its use of coal while increasing its use of renewable energy. 

Duke Energy also hopes to make use of emerging technologies such as advancements in nuclear energy, the use of technology to capture carbon during natural gas production and using hydrogen and other low- or zero-carbon fuels.

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“We are leaning in to this challenge and addressing climate risks by, first and foremost, reducing our own emissions and, secondly, by adapting our system to be more flexible and resilient,” the company said in a report published Tuesday

The report stated that in 2019, Duke Energy’s electricity generation emitted 93 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. It aims to reduce that figure to 76.5 million tons by 2030, and eventually land on net-zero emissions. 

The company provided data on how much electricity it generates from certain sources currently and included projections for how much of its energy it would like to come from those sources in the future. 

Last year, 24 percent of the company’s electricity generation came from coal. In 2050, Duke hopes to generate none of its electricity from coal. During that period, the company also hopes to increase it use of renewable energy sources to produce 36 percent of its electricity, up from 5 percent. 

Thirty-one percent of Duke’s electricity generation comes from gas. It hopes to reduce this to 6 percent by 2050. 

However, the company also hopes to have some of its energy coming from carbon capture utilization and storage technology, a process by which carbon is pulled out of the air during fossil fuel production.This process, alongside other emerging technologies, are projected to make up 30 percent of Duke Energy’s electricity generation by 2050.

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Duke also plans to use carbon credits, which can be purchased to offset a company’s carbon footprint, to help it achieve its net-zero goal.

A company spokesperson told The Hill in an email that carbon offsets were not taken into account when determining the emissions reductions laid out in the report.

"Our goal is to get as close to zero as possible, but some residual carbon emissions may need to be offset," the spokesperson said.

Updated at 5:10 p.m.