Xcel Energy going carbon-free by 2050

Climate watchers got some big news from Minnesota-based Xcel Energy Tuesday. Xcel announced it will deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.

Xcel Chairman Ben Fowke, says the company is accelerating carbon reduction goals given advances in renewable energy and battery storage technology, and strong customer demand for carbon-free energy.

Here’s a clip from Tuesday’s press release.

Company sets new, industry-leading carbon reduction goals

DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Xcel Energy, a national leader in renewable energy, rolled out a clean energy vision today in Denver that will deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050. As part of this vision, the company also announced plans to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030, from 2005 levels in the eight states it serves. The new goals are the most ambitious announced to date within the electric power industry.

“This is an extraordinary time to work in the energy industry, as we’re providing customers more low-cost clean energy than we could have imagined a decade ago,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO, Xcel Energy. “We’re accelerating our carbon reduction goals because we’re encouraged by advances in technology, motivated by customers who are asking for it and committed to working with partners to make it happen.”

Rapid advances

Why is Xcel able to announce such an ambitious goal? The simple answer is the pace of renewable energy technologies like solar, wind, and battery storage is advancing much faster than predicted 10 or 20 years ago. Renewable energy is now the lowest cost power option in many areas. And customer demand for climate-friendly renewable energy and low carbon solutions is growing fast.

Here’s my discussion with Xcel Chair Ben Fowke recently on MPR News Climate Cast about the advances in electric vehicle and other technologies.

The next economic moonshot? 

I’ve often called climate change solutions America’s next economic moonshot opportunity. Climate change solution technology is already here today. Prices on atmosphere-friendly technologies are dropping fast. Jobs are being created as the next energy transition gains momentum.

Today’s news from Xcel Energy shows that a rapid energy transition can create massive economic opportunity, and benefit earth’s climate at the same time.

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    It’s incredibly important to have leadership like this. Most global utilities are not close to seeing this as possible, not to mention profitable. Congrats Xcel on a brave strategy which promises a bright future. Tim Nixon, managing editor, Thomson Reuters Sustainability