CHARLOTTE – Duke Energy added nearly 1,800 megawatts of renewable energy to its portfolio in 2021, an increase of 20% from the prior year.
That’s according to the company’s latest annual disclosure on environment, social, and governance, or ESG.
“Our ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance ] strategy is focused on how we create value while at the same time mitigate the risks associated with our business,” said Katherine Neebe, the chief sustainability officer at Duke Energy and the president of the Duke Energy Foundation, in a statement.
The Charlotte-headquartered utility released the data on renewable energy production along with other data in its 16th ESG report. According to the company, it plans to own, operate, or contract for 16,000 megawatts (MWs) of renewable energy by 2025.
The latest gains put Duke Energy at 10,500 MWs at the end of 2021, the report notes. That’s ahead of the nearly 8,880 MWs of wind and solar power at the end of 2020, which represents a 20% increase in renewable energy, the company said.
North Carolina was a leading state for the company, when it came to the increase in renewable energy production. According to the statement, the company added 436 MW in 2021 in North Carolina.
Increasing solar power capacity
Duke Energy opened a 22.6 MW solar plant in Surry County earlier this year, as well as one in Cleveland County and another in Cabarrus County in January. There’s a solar plant under construction in Catawba County, as well, which could open this year.
A 2021 report ranked North Carolina third in the nation when it came to the growth of solar energy capacity. And the City of Raleigh was ranked 37th in the nation when it came to total solar capacity generated in the city and 42nd on a per capita basis in a recent report.
According to a letter signed by Neebe that appears in the latest ESG report from Duke Energy, the company has retired 56 coal units since 2010, reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation by 44% compared to 2005 levels.
Duke Energy is “on pace to achieve our goal of at least 50% reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050,” Neebe’s letter states.
Still, the ESG report shows that the company’s breakdown of electricity generation, at the end of 2021, was 42% natural gas, 32% coal, 18% nuclear, and 8% hydropower and renewable. In the company’s commercial renewables operation, 55% of electricity generation comes from wind and 43% comes from solar, the report states.