ORIGINAL REPORTING: NextEra’s ‘game-changing’ Real Zero plan and the missing piece
NextEra’s ‘game-changing’ Real Zero emissions goal spurs questions about hydrogen, demand-side management; A much-praised plan for 2045 will test green hydrogen and whether decarbonization needs demand flexibility.
Herman K. Trabish, August 3, 2022
Editor’s note: NextEra’s plan is an exciting test of a zero-emissions future but it seems to bypass the role of customer-owned resources.
The NextEra Energy Real Zero plan announced June 14 by the world’s biggest investor-owned utility could be a game-changing climate goal but comes with unanswered questions, stakeholders said.
Real Zero would eliminate carbon emissions from NEE operations by 2045 without relying on carbon offsets as other U.S. utilities’ net zero plans do, and is “the most ambitious carbon-emissions-reduction goal ever set by an energy producer,” NEE’s June 14 statement said. With it, NEE and subsidiary Florida Power and Light are challenging utilities with net zero climate goals, NEE President and CEO John Ketchum said.
NEE’s business model, based on utility-scale renewables development, has helped to propel it to the highest market capitalization of any electric utility in the world, NEE reported to investors June 14. Real Zero would “transform” over 80% of FPL generation to solar, battery storage, and green hydrogen, while “enhancing reliability, resiliency, affordability and cost certainty,” NEE said.
The Real Zero Blueprint would also leverage NEE’s scale as the biggest U.S. electricity producer to lead the over “$4 trillion market opportunity,” in decarbonizing the U.S. economy, NEE added.
It may be a “paradigm shifting” plan, according to longtime FPL critic Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, or SACE. “When a private business as successful as NextEra puts this kind of ambition on the table, it moves the needle,” and “it has committed to elements of the blueprint in planning documents, showing it is serious,” Smith said.
FPL is also “on track” to meet its 2025 solar commitments, underscoring that seriousness, SACE, Sierra Club and other stakeholders agreed. But Real Zero’s 90 GW of solar, 50 GW of battery storage, and yet-to-be-piloted green hydrogen plan will be difficult to reach by 2045 at the promised “zero incremental costs” to customers, those stakeholders also agreed. And it lacks specific demand flexibility and energy efficiency goals likely to be needed to meet accelerating transportation and building electrification loads, they added… click here for more