Executing several plans announced by US power utilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would have a minor effect on US energy-related reductions, according to the analysis just published by the US Energy Information Administration. As part of its ‘Annual Energy Outlook 2021’ EIA created a ‘Corporate Goal’ case that includes assumptions based on carbon-reduction goals outlined in utilities' integrated resource plans and on the carbon-reduction goals stated in press releases and other utility plans. 

EIA projects that CO2 emissions across the entire US energy system would be 3% lower by 2050 under the Corporate Goal case compared with its Reference case. The Reference case includes assumptions based on current laws and regulations, and EIA uses it as a baseline for policy or other side case analysis, including this one. 

Within the electric power sector however, it projects that US CO2 emissions are 12% lower in the Corporate Goal case than in the Reference case. Meeting announced utility goals would lead to more electricity generation from carbon-neutral generation resources. In particular, fewer existing nuclear plants retire in the Corporate Goal case, which reduces the need for new capacity from renewable technologies. 

This outcome occurs in part because the EIA model identifies existing nuclear generation as being among the lowest-cost options for meeting clean energy or carbon-reduction goals. Existing nuclear plants typically have operation and maintenance costs that are less than the cost of building new low-carbon capacity. 

The full report, ‘Corporate Goal Case: using the Annual Energy Outlook 2021’, includes more information on these assumptions and their effects on the U.S. electricity generation mix and resulting CO2 emissions.