Emissions, Nuclear, Renewables

NRG Energy announces net-zero carbon goal by 2050

NRG Energy is the latest utility to accelerate its zero-carbon goals for the future.

The competitive market power producer announced Tuesday that it expects to reach its goal of a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025–five years earlier than previously predicted. In addition, NRG forecast that it would achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The original reduction goals announced in 2015 were 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050. If achieved, the goals announced Tuesday would avoid about one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, according to the company.

“Addressing climate change is a priority for our company as it presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our time,” said Mauricio Gutierrez, president and CEO, NRG Energy. “By realigning our carbon reduction efforts to the new climate imperative, we create value for all stakeholders and lead our sector towards achieving a sustainable future.”

The new goals are based on the reductions necessary to contain global warming to 1.5 ̊ Celsius, the limit the IPCC now believes is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. NRG also recently joined leading companies in formally signing on to the UN’s Business Ambition to 1.5 ̊ Celsius, “Our Only Future” pledge.

Customer choice and competitive markets have enabled the acceleration of decarbonization across the power sector. Through technology investments and other internal initiatives, NRG has already achieved a 37 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to its carbon footprint in 2014, which is the baseline year for the company’s science-based comparisons.

NRG’s generation mix is about 43 percent natural gas-fueled, but the company also has numerous nuclear and renewable wind resources in its portfolio. The company joins utilities such as Duke and Xcel which have announced goals to reach net-zero by 2050.

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NRG’s Chris Moser, executive vice president of operations, will be a keynote speaker at POWERGEN International in New Orleans. Moser will be featured in the Wednesday, Nov. 20 keynote at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).