Forget "net-zero". NextEra Energy, one of the largest utilities in the U.S., plans to be "real zero" with no fossil fuel energy sources in its power mix by 2045.
NextEra has already staked a claim for itself in the renewable energy business, and, at one point, was more valuable than ExxonMobil thanks to its clean power business.
Now the company has a commitment to leverage low-cost renewables and develop a blue print that will get the company to zero emissions across its power generating fleet before 2050.
It's one of the first U.S. utilities to make that commitment, and represents a big step forward for how the U.S. can meet its goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and keeping the world below 1.5 degrees of warming.
According to the company, the plan would mean that NextEra's energy business would be fully decarbonized while helping industries that rely on the company's power reduce their carbon emissions as well.
The utility sees decarbonization as a $4 trillion market opportunity and wants to be at the forefront of businesses that capture that value, according to a statement.
"Our Real Zero goal to eliminate carbon emissions from our operations is a real goal that would make a significant difference for our customers," said John Ketchum, president and chief executive officer, NextEra Energy.
"We are building on our decades of innovation and investments in low-cost renewable energy to decarbonize our company while keeping bills affordable for our customers. Attaining Real Zero will be one of those achievements that provides lasting value to our customers and the communities where we do business. We've been working on this for a long time and will take our extensive experience, industry-leading development platform and scale to help accelerate the decarbonization of the U.S. economy."
To hit its targets, NextEra has set interim milestones every five years to convert its energy mix to zero-carbon-emission sources. The company plans to reduce the fossil fuel-fired energy sources by 70% every year by 2025 and boost that to 82% by 2030, 87% by 2035, and 94% by 2040.
Few, if any, other U.S. utilities have set such an aggressive target -- but all of them should. Some companies are trying to meet reductions in their emissions targets set by certain states... by building more fossil fuel powered plants in neighboring geographies.
"We've worked hard in developing Real Zero to ensure we have a credible technical pathway to achieve our goals and well-defined milestones every five years so we and all stakeholders can track our progress," said Ketchum. "We're part of an industry that is well positioned to make the most progress in the elimination of carbon emissions and Real Zero is NextEra Energy's goal to set a new standard for all power generators."
The utility is relying on a significant buildout of solar power in its core Florida market, but also expecting additional power to come from nuclear power, green Hydrogen, and biofuels that can operate as a reserve in case of outages.
NextEra said Florida residents are already reaping the benefits of the company's push into renewable energy and zero-emission power. The company estimates that it has avoided $12 billion in fuel costs for its customers and reduced emissions by 28% below the national average for a utility.
"NextEra Energy Resources has been a leader in providing clean, low-cost renewable energy for decades, and as part of our Zero Carbon Blueprint plan, we intend to significantly expand our renewables deployment to the benefit of customers in every sector," said Rebecca Kujawa, president and chief executive officer, NextEra Energy Resources.