Duke Energy published its latest climate report Oct. 4, highlighting planned investments to the company’s generating fleet.

The company said it plans to increase capital investment for its seven regulated utilities to $145 billion over the next decade. $40 billion of that total would be for investments in zero-carbon generation sources, such as renewables, battery storage resources and hydrogen-powered natural gas technologies. It would also include extending the life of its nuclear fleet.

Duke Energy’s goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In its climate report, the company noted it also has an interim target of 80% emission reductions from 2005 levels by 2040. Duke Energy said it has already reduced emissions from its generating fleet by 44% through the end of 2021.

See the climate report here

Hydrogen

In its climate report, Duke Energy said it is implementing a solar to 100% green hydrogen-capable combustion turbine in Florida, with the goal to be operational by 2024. The company did not provide more details on the project, so we have reached out to get more details.

Duke Energy is also partnering with Clemson University and Siemens Energy to potentially produce, store and co-fire hydrogen at the utility’s CHP plant on Clemson’s campus.

The company is also partnering with Wabash Valley Resources on a DOE -funded front-end engineering design study of biomass to-net-zero-hydrogen production in Indiana.

Renewables

By 2035, Duke Energy said it expects to have 30,000 MW of renewables on its system. In September the utility completed a 700 MW solar project portfolio in Florida, one of its fastest growing states for solar power.

Completion of the 74.9 MW Charlie Creek Solar Power Plant in Hardee County marked the last of 10 solar projects to be brought online from 2018 through 2022.

By 2024, the company believes its solar portfolio in Florida will include 25 solar plants, which would provide about 1,500 MW of capacity.

Duke Energy also recently became one of two offshore wind lessees for the Carolina Long Bay area east of Wilmington, North Carolina. The lease could support the development of up to 1.6 GW of offshore wind.

New nuclear

In its climate report, Duke Energy said continuing to operate existing nuclear generation and adding new small modular reactors (SMR) are essential to maintaining emission reduction progress and achieving net-zero goals.  

The company serves an advisory role on the TerraPower-led team that is working to demonstrate GE Hitachi’s Natrium fast sodium reactor with molten salt storage. The project received one of two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awards through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) in 2020.

Duke Energy is also an advisory board member for NuScale, which is working toward a six-unit pilot SMR in Idaho by 2030. NuScale is the first SMR design to receive certification by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but it has not yet received its operating license.

In Indiana, Duke Energy is working with Purdue University on an SMR feasibility study to determine how to best meet the energy needs of the university and the state using nuclear.

Finally, Duke Energy is a member of the Market Development Advisory Committee for General Fusion, a Canadian company developing a fusion power plant technology.

Long-duration energy storage

Duke Energy is evaluating the potential for increased pumped-storage capacity to support renewables integration in the Western Carolinas. The utility has owned and operated pumped-storage hydro stations in the region since the 1970s.

The utility also said it is piloting multiple technologies, including a vanadium flow battery with the University of Central Florida; Honeywell’s new nonflammable flow battery and EOS’s Znyth Gen 3.0 zinc bromine battery at Duke Energy’s Emerging Technology Innovation Center in Mount Holly, North Carolina; and EnerVenue’s nickel-hydrogen battery at our McAlpine Creek Substation in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Duke Energy is also partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to study the cost and performance of deploying Hydrostor’s advanced compressed air energy storage technology at an existing coal site in North Carolina.

How new laws help

Duke Energy believes the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will help drive advancements in hydrogen and storage technologies, as well as strengthen the supply chain for clean energy resources such as hydrogen, new nuclear and advanced energy storage.

Duke Energy says its preliminary modeling indicates that the IRA will reduce the cost of its energy transition through the 2030s, bringing down costs with the legislation’s tax credits for solar, wind, hydrogen, storage and new and existing nuclear.

The utility also expects to benefit from the IIJA, also known as the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Enacted in late 2021, the IIJA provides more than $60 billion for clean energy technology development and grid modernization.

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