As renewable power surpasses coal as a U.S. energy source, Entergy Corp. of New Orleans is committing to cut power-production carbon emissions to zero within 30 years, and is teaming with Mitsubishi Power in Arkansas and three other states as part of that effort.
Investor-owned Entergy Corp., one of the largest power producers in the South and parent company to Entergy Arkansas, the state’s largest electric utility, announced on Friday an aggressive set of sustainability goals while reaffirming its commitment to grid reliability and low rates for customers.
Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and CEO, noted that the company was “the first utility in the nation to voluntarily limit carbon emissions,” and in a news release described the 2050 commitment as “another major step.”
The company plans to continue integrating renewable energy into its resource mix, adding it alongside storage with its conventional generation sources like coal, natural gas, and notably for Entergy, nuclear power.
The plan calls for “continuing investment in exiting zero-carbon nuclear power,” the company said, including Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville, which provides “well over 70 percent of Entergy Arkansas’ resource mix,” Director of Regulatory Affairs David Palmer told Arkansas Business last week.
Much of the nation’s generation mix has shifted from coal to cheaper natural gas since the fracking revolution unleashed a glut in the gas market. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently announced that in 2019, renewable power like solar and wind surpassed coal power in America’s energy mix for the first time in more than 130 years.
In its announcement, Entergy touted its “efficient natural gas generating units” and affirmed a pledge to retire coal-fired and older, less-efficient gas-powered units. As part of that effort, Entergy plans to stop burning coal at its Arkansas units in Redfield (Jefferson County) and Newark (Independence County) by 2028 and 2030, respectively.
Entergy Corp.’s strategy includes evaluating and enhancing emerging technologies such as distributed resources and alternative fuels, and collaborating with customers, and suppliers to find ways to cut carbon emissions.
The company also anticipates new agreements with Invenergy Renewables LLC of Chicago, which is designing and will build a 100-megawatt solar power station for Entergy Arkansas in Lee County near Brinkley over the next few years, pending regulatory approval. Entergy Arkansas has an operating 81-megawatt array near Stuttgart built by NextEra of Juno Beach Florida, and a 100-megawatt NextEra solar array coming online this year in Lake Village (Chicot County). Yet another 100-megawatt sun station is in the works for White County.
The decarbonization project with Mitsubishi Power will focus on decarbonizing Entergy’s utility businesses in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, focusing on limiting carbon emissions from power plants.
The companies hope to develop turbines to work with hydrogen, as well as green hydrogen production, storage and transportation facilities. Other projects include utility-scale battery storage and nuclear-supplied electrolysis facilities with energy storage.