Duke Energy Set to Sell 101 MW Solar Energy in North Carolina

Duke Energy Corp. DUK has recently announced that Duke University is going to purchase 101 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity from the former. This deal has been signed under Duke Energy’s Green Source Advantage (GSA) program.  

Notably, Duke Energy has a partnership with the academic institution for promoting clean energy in North Carolina,

Details on the Solar Expansion Plan

Per the latest agreement, Duke University will partner with Pine Gate Renewables to build solar projects. The facilities are expected to be online by 2022. This solar energy expansion in North Carolina fits into Duke University's Climate Action Plan, which was updated in 2019 with a goal of reducing on-campus emissions by 84% by 2024, with the remaining emissions reduced to zero levels through investments in carbon offsets. This agreement will help Duke University achieve carbon neutrality by 2024.

A Brief Note on Duke Energy’s GSA Program

Duke Energy’s GSA program consists of around 600 MW of solar capacity, although around 30 MW is only available to eligible customers. Under its GSA program, large energy users are allowed to offset their power purchases by securing renewable energy from projects connected to the Duke Energy grid. In July, Bank of America BAC became the latest customer of Duke’s GSA program, with a plan to buy energy from a 25-MW facility.

Duke Energy’s Prospects in North Carolina

As the entire United States is transitioning toward a clean energy economy, the Carolinas are leading the nation in terms of carbon emission reduction in the electric sector. In particular, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, in 2019, announced its projections of substantial increases in renewable energy generation, approximately to 33,000 GWh by 2030. This has offered immense growth opportunities to utilities like Duke Energy to enhance its renewable portfolio in North Carolina.

To this end, it is imperative to mention that Duke Energy operates 40 solar facilities in North Carolina and maintains about 3,500 MW of solar power on its energy grid in the state, capable of powering about 700,000 homes and businesses at peak output. In July, Duke Energy started construction on a 69-MW and a 25-MW solar facility in North Carolina, in order to increase and bring more clean energy resources to the state.

Adoption of Clean Energy to Benefit Utilities

Realizing the need and advantage of the rapid shift toward clean energy, utilities across the board are enhancing their renewable portfolio and reducing fossil fuel dependence at a faster pace. Notably, Duke Energy aims to achieve significant carbon neutrality and reduce existing carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Alongside Duke Energy, there are other major utilities across the United States, who also envision expanding clean energy resources and reducing carbon emissions.

For instance, Xcel Energy XEL aims to achieve an 80% carbon reduction by 2030 and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. Likewise, American Electric Power AEP aims at reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.

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