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Thought Leadership
EEI International Insights:
Electric Company Commitments to Clean Energy
October 2018
EEI International Insights: Electric Company Commitments to Clean Energy
The Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) U.S. and International member companies are investing in and delivering cleaner energy to their customers across the globe. This article highlights the ongoing clean energy investments of EEI’s member companies.
 
Regional Industry Leadership
According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global electric power industry had the most important role in the growth of clean energy in 2017, with renewables-based electricity generation increasing by 6.3 percent (TWh). Today, renewables account for 25 percent of global electricity generation.1

Across North America, electric companies are advancing efforts to support a balanced energy mix to ensure safe, reliable, affordable, and increasing clean energy for customers. As of the end of 2017, U.S. power sector carbon dioxide emissions have declined 28 percent from 2005 levels, driven in part by an increase use of natural gas and a decreased use of coal generation, increased deployment of renewable capacity, and customer demand for clean energy sources.

Today, more than one-third of U.S. power generation comes from zero-emissions sources including nuclear energy, hydropower, wind, and solar power. Universal, or large-scale, projects accounted for 59 percent of newly installed solar capacity in 2017. Electric companies also provide virtually all the wind, geothermal, and hydropower across the country. For example, Xcel Energy, which has reduced its carbon emissions 35 percent below 2005 levels, has added more than 700 MW of universal solar capacity in the past several years, and plans to expand their wind resources by more than 50 percent by 2021. American Electric Power, which has reduced its carbon emissions 44 percent below 2000 levels, has a renewable energy portfolio that includes more than 4,000 MW of wind and solar capacity.

In 2016, Canada’s National Energy Board reported that the country generated more than 80 percent of its electricity from zero-emissions sources, and reduced emissions from the electricity sector more than 30 percent between 2005 and 2015. The Government of Canada has also announced a commitment to phase out traditional coal-fired generation by 2030, as well as increase zero-emissions sources to 90 percent.
 
The Province of Ontario has already phased-out coal generation and is one of the central provinces for Canada’s nuclear generation. The Provincial Government in Alberta has also announced the phase-out of coal by 2030 and plans to generate 30 percent of Alberta’s electricity from renewable resources. Electric companies in the province have announced plans to support these clean energy goals. For example, in December 2017, TransAlta announced its accelerated transition to clean energy.

In other provinces, SaskPower, headquartered in Saskatchewan, Canada, has committed to reducing emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, with plans to increase wind power capacity from 221 MW to approximately 2,100 MW by 2030 and add 60 MW of solar capacity by 2021. 
 
European Union (EU) countries have agreed to a new 2030 climate and energy framework that includes a goal of at least a 40 percent decrease in emissions relative to 1990 levels, and a 27 percent share of renewable energy.

Eurelectric—the European trade association that represents 34 electric companies in 32 European countries—released their vision for the European electric power industry, which includes a commitment to invest in cleaner energy resources to reduce emissions and pursue efforts to become carbon neutral well before 2050. At the close of the first quarter 2018, Iberdrola Group, a multi-national electric company headquartered in Spain, reached an installed capacity of 48,800 MW, of which 67 percent of installed capacity is emissions free with 60 percent of total capacity renewables and 7 percent total capacity nuclear power. The company has also set a goal to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent below 2007 levels by 2020. ENEL, a multinational company headquartered in Italy, has a strategy to install an additional 6.7 GW of renewable capacity to increase zero-emission generation from 46 percent to 56 percent in 2019.
 
Of the 167 GW of  global renewable energy capacity added by the end of 2017, 64 percent of new capacity came from Asia, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. China accounted for more than half of all new installed solar capacity, with an addition of 53 GW. According to the IEA, the new solar PV capacity added in 2017 in China is equivalent to the total solar PV capacity of France and Germany combined. China plans to increase installed renewables capacity to 680 GW by 2020.
 
State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and Southern China Power Grid are planning to build more ultra-high voltage direct current transmission lines to support the integration of renewables and improve the delivery of electricity from renewable resources to areas of high energy demand across the country. In April 2018, SGCC announced that the 598 kilometer long Xinjiang section of a 1100kV transmission line was completed. This is the world’s first-of-its-kind ultra-high voltage direct current transmission line.
 
In Japan, uncertainty about the future of nuclear generation has led to the pursuit of hydrogen technology. In December 2017, Japan’s Ministerial Council on Renewable Energy, Hydrogen, and Related Issues decided on a “Basic Hydrogen Strategy” to accomplish clean energy objectives by 2030 and set a vision for Japan through to 2050. Japan was also one of the top six countries contributing to the growth of renewables in 2017. 

International Commitment
Lastly, industry leaders from the world’s major electric power industry reiterated their commitment to clean energy during the 25th Anniversary of the first International Electricity Summit held in Washington, D.C., in April 2018. The Energy Network Association of Australia, Australia Energy Council, the Canadian Electricity Association, Edison Electric Institute, Eurelectric, and Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan issued a joint-statement outlining shared industry priorities and objectives, including the recognition of clean energy as the foundation of the evolving future energy system.

While this article highlights efforts in three regions, there are numerous examples of industry leadership in other regions across the globe. The electric power industry continues to show its commitment to a clean energy future.
 
1. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation capacity is the maximum electric output an electricity generator can produce under ideal conditions, represented in MW or kW. Electricity generation is the amount of electricity a generator produces over a specific length of time, usually measured in kilowatt-hours, megawatt-hours, or terawatt-hours.