Monday, November 24, 2014

NRG Seeks to Cut 90% of Its Carbon Emissions

NRG has invested in the Petra Nova project, which will capture and reuse emissions from this coal-fired power plant in Texas. (Credit: Eric Kayne/Invision for NRG, via Associated Press) Click to Enlarge.
NRG, which built a leading electricity business from coal and other conventional power plants, is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050, the company said on Thursday.

David Crane, the company’s chief executive, made the announcement at a ceremony breaking ground for the company’s new headquarters in Princeton, N.J., conceived as a green-energy showcase that will open in 2016.

“The power industry is the biggest part of the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, but it has the potential to be an even bigger part of the solution,” Mr. Crane said in an interview before the announcement.

Since 2005, the company has reduced its carbon emissions 40 percent, executives say, and the new goals would use this year’s projected level of 125 million metric tons as a baseline.  Few power companies have made similar commitments, although they have become common in corporate America and are part of the impetus for NRG’s move.

Businesses like Coca-Cola, Google and Walmart are increasingly looking to buy or produce more green energy as a way of reducing their carbon footprints, creating a potentially lucrative market for companies like NRG.  This week, for instance, Ikea announced it had bought a second wind farm in the United States, part of its goal of, by 2020, producing as much renewable energy as the company consumes globally.

“We are working with these companies on putting solar panels all over their facilities, and it’s helpful for them to know that we’re heading in the right direction,” Mr. Crane said.

In addition, Mr. Crane said that he was mindful of the growing pressure from younger Americans and investors to decrease dependence on fossil fuels.  A report this week commissioned by Ceres, a Boston advocacy group that focuses on the economic risks of climate change, concluded that investments in large fossil fuel and nuclear plants had a higher chance of causing financial harm to utilities than investments in renewable sources, in part because of proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations for power plants and the falling costs for large-scale wind and solar installations.

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