Operational Excellence
January 8, 2019

Xcel Energy's 2050 carbon-free vision will take an all-in effort

How we’re planning to meet this challenge

With an industry-first goal of serving all customers with zero-carbon electricity by 2050, Xcel Energy is laying out a big, bold, grand vision.

Challenging? Indeed, and while this vision for the future makes for dramatic headlines, only hard work and focused effort on multiple levels will get it done. It will require commitment, ingenuity and determination from many sectors to make the pieces fall into place.

Oh, there’s one minor caveat. All this needs to be done while providing reliable energy at the lowest possible prices for Xcel Energy customers. Carbon-free energy delivered economically - the idea is ideal, and we’re up to the challenge.

Why do we feel this is worth it?

By starting now with an Xcel Energy comprehensive carbon reduction plan that reaches out 30 years, we’ll create clear and long-ranging benefits:

1)      A head start on our future
Projections are not promising when it comes to climate change’s effect on our future. So we’re battling those threats by reducing our carbon footprint to zero by 2050. We believe the more we can front load our efforts, the better.

On the way to that ambitious 2050 goal for Xcel Energy, we’ve also accelerated our plans to reduce carbon as quickly and reliably as possible at the lowest possible price for our customers. For example by 2022, roughly a dozen new generation wind farms will be contributing clean, renewable energy to our system. Discover the top things to know about wind energy here.

By 2030, we expect to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent company-wide for Xcel Energy from 2005 levels. These milestones will help set the pace for our success.

2)      Our Steel for Fuel economics is a good model.
The economics of carbon-free energy generation are optimistic. By leveraging our current Steel for Fuel strategy, which provides investment in wind energy, we can more than offset that cost by avoiding fuel costs in the future. In other words, the steel of wind turbines becomes the fuel. And that bodes well for the future of other renewables and clean energy technology, like solar and batteries.

Our wind and solar investments bring value to the communities we serve. In our Xcel Energy operating areas, this shows up as significant economic development in construction jobs, tax base and lease payments for landowners. These offer short- and long-range- benefits which enhance the community in profound ways. See how today’s wind turbines are bigger, quieter and more efficient here.

3)      The value of Xcel Energy providing a real-life, working example.
Our hope is industry peers will emulate us. We want to not only lead by example also help other utilities along the path.

4)      We believe that advancing technology will get us there.
That last 20 percent in carbon reduction, moving from an 80-percent decrease all the way to 100 percent carbon-free energy, is the most challenging. Current technology doesn’t provide an easy way to get there. Yet we see that technology is always advancing. Just a few years ago, no one was certain Xcel Energy could come so far with wind energy, and it’s become a cornerstone of our power generation fleet. 

So we’re hedging that break-through technology will help us out on our journey to completely carbon-free energy. That may be longer-duration battery storage, small modular nuclear reactors or another source of carbon-free energy. We’re open to exploring them all and encouraged by the advances we’re seeing
We’re stronger when we work together.

We need partners to help get it done

This new carbon-free vision will transform the way we generate and deliver energy to our customers and the way we operate in this new reality. As a regulated business, Xcel Energy answers to the requirements and guidelines of public utility commissions, legislative bodies, and even various federal departments. All plans and actions must be transparent and will be scrutinized. So having regulatory and legislative support for our ambitious goals is vital for success.

Reliability and affordability are critical elements for our customers and stakeholders of Xcel Energy. These are our prime duties. So watch for calculated and steady progress on our goal for 2050, because customer needs are our priority, and our track record shows we can meet those needs while providing ever-cleaner energy. Making our energy even cleaner for the next 100 years

Carbon-free energy delivered economically. It’s a big, bold challenge for Xcel Energy. And we’re committed to making it a reality. Looking back at our humble beginning around 100 years ago, we’re thrilled to be on a historical path towards delivering clean energy for the future.

In our Carbon Report, released in March 2019, we discuss the company's vision, as well as the opportunities, risks and challenges we face to achieve this vision. Learn more by downloading our Carbon Report.

Download Xcel Energy's Carbon Report

Stay tuned and watch for the milestones that will bring us closer to a 2050 zero-carbon reality at Xcel Energy.