Xcel Energy’s vision to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to customers is now backed by a scientific study. The company announced that it has verified its groundbreaking carbon goals in a newly published report — an industry first for in-depth analysis. It partnered with climate scientists with the University of Denver to confirm its vision is consistent with temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement.
“We are well positioned for the future and are focused on putting the right technology and policies in place to make our vision a reality,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO, Xcel Energy. “Our 2018 carbon results demonstrate the significant gains we’re making in the transition to clean energy while still maintaining safe, reliable, and affordable service for our customers.”
Xcel Energy’s newly published report outlines the path to achieving its ambitious carbon reductions, as well as the results of the scientific study. The climate modeling experts concluded the company’s emissions reduction trajectory under its carbon vision is consistent with electric sector emissions in scenarios likely to achieve the temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement.
In 2018, Xcel Energy cut carbon emissions an additional 3% in one year. This reduction is notable because, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, carbon emissions for the electric power sector increased 2% in 2018.
Xcel Energy’s lower emissions are the result of continued high performance from the company’s nuclear plants, reduced coal generation, and an increase in generation from natural gas and some renewables.
The company’s new 600-MW Rush Creek wind farm in Colorado also came online last year — the company’s largest wind project to date.
The path to carbon-free electricity
Xcel Energy studied many pathways for achieving its goals and its carbon report identifies key elements for reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2030.
These elements include:
- Adding thousands of megawatts of wind and solar power to its system
- Incorporating both natural gas generation and battery storage to help balance high levels of renewables
- Retiring more coal units or changing coal unit operations to reduce emissions
- Supporting the strategic electrification of certain end uses, such as transportation, to create flexible demand
- Investing in critical infrastructure, such as transmission and advanced grid technology for our distribution system
Beyond 2030, the company will need new carbon-free 24/7 technologies that are not yet commercially available at the cost and scale required. To serve customers with 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, the company is calling for more research, innovation and demonstration of advanced carbon-free technologies, such as power to gas, seasonal energy storage, advanced nuclear or small modular reactors, carbon capture and storage, deep rock geothermal or other technologies.