Southern Company Commits to Net-Zero Carbon by 2050, but Seeks New Gas Plants for Now

At-a-Glance:

Southern Company has committed to a net-zero carbon target for 2050. To meet this goal, it will balance emissions from its fossil-fuel-fired generation fleet and natural-gas business with heavy investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. The company, which owns many utilities across the south, also said it expects to hit a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to 2007 levels “well ahead” of its previous 2030 target, potentially as early as 2025. To learn more, read “Southern Company Commits to Net-Zero Carbon by 2050, but Seeks New Gas Plants for Now.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Southern Company’s new target applies to all its electric utilities, its Southern Company Gas unit, its Southern Power competitive power arm and its Southern Nuclear arm.
  • Its net-zero approach will include pursuing “negative-carbon solutions, including technology-based approaches such as direct air capture of carbon as well as natural methods like afforestation.”
  • Southern Company expects to have over 14 gigawatts (GW) of renewable resources by 2024 between its state-regulated utilities and Southern Power.
    • The resulting portfolio mix will contain about 17,300 megawatts (MW) of carbon-neutral generation in 2023, compared to about 12,500 MW in 2018.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Southern Company is now joining the ranks of other utilities setting net-zero carbon targets, including Xcel Energy, Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, Arizona Public Service, NRG, PSEG and Consumers Energy. This move is a significant improvement from the company’s previous goal of  “low- to no-carbon” by 2050 that it set just two years ago.

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