Utility officials see path to 80% carbon emissions reduction, worry about last 20%

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Thirteen states have set targets for a carbon-free grid by midcentury, if not earlier, to help the world avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But is that possible?With today’s technology, utilities can readily reach 80% reductions in carbon emissions in the next decade, according to an Oct. 14 panel discussion at the Energy Bar Association’s fall conference, held virtually. It’s the remaining 20% that will be hard.Xcel Energy Inc. was one of the first entrants into the carbon-free race. In March 2021, it will file a resource plan with regulators in Colorado — a state enacting sweeping energy reforms to move to carbon-free generation — that will show how it can achieve an 80% carbon reduction by 2030.Xcel executives have said in earnings calls that natural gas must play a role in helping the utility reach carbon-reduction targets in the near-term as it awaits advancements in battery storage, pumped hydropower, advanced nuclear, hydrogen and molten salt technologies that will provide and store carbon-free power. “But really where we sit as a company is, ‘Look, bring it all,’” Alice Jackson, president of Xcel in Colorado, said during the panel discussion. “Because we don’t know which one of these is going to see the cost reductions that we’ve all enjoyed as utilities and our customers have enjoyed,” such as the dramatic fall in the price of solar and wind power.Jason Burwen, vice president of policy for the Energy Storage Association, said, “Project sizes are going higher and higher, and that’s because of the rapidly reducing costs of batteries.” Utilities have so far proposed 18 GW of storage in resource plans, according to the association, as batteries increasingly look like a feasible, cost-effective option for replacing natural gas peaker plants. New York recently announced plans to explore replacing natural gas peaker plants with battery storage systems.George Wayne Jr., vice president for market services for Kinder Morgan Inc., said natural gas has been the “primary source of reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and that can’t be lost.” But he acknowledged that the industry is seeing unprecedented opposition. Natural gas pipeline infrastructure, though, can be repurposed to deliver hydrogen and renewable fuels, he said. The industry is studying hydrogen’s degrading effect on pipelines. Technologies allow the insertion of plastic into pipelines to prevent them from becoming brittle, but they are currently expensive, he said. Subsidies would help such technologies advance.“Is net zero achievable? I believe it is,” Wayne said. “I mean, it’ll be bumpy, with twists and turns along the way. But I do ultimately believe it is achievable.”[Justin Horwath]More ($): Utilities can reach 80% CO2 reductions, but net-zero will be hard, say officials Utility officials see path to 80% carbon emissions reduction, worry about last 20%last_img

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