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LG&E bets on unproven technology to reach net zero and keep burning fossil fuels – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

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Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities plan to burn fossil fuels after 2050, using an unproven carbon capture technology that their own representatives described as “ambitious.” to achieve net-zero commitments. Testimony of company officials.

According to climate scientists, 2050 is the deadline for achieving net zero carbon emissions to keep the planet habitable.

Officials at LG&E, KU, and their parent company PPL Electric Utilities Corporation have set interim targets to reduce carbon emissions by 70% from 2010 levels by 2035 and 80% by 2045. It says it is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Utilities nationwide We are making similar commitments. This is important because greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are warming the planet. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned the world must act to avoid the devastation of climate change in the next decade.mass suicide

“Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise and ocean heat have set new records. Half of humanity is in the danger zone of floods, storms and wildfires. No country is immune,” said Guterres. rice field.

To avoid this fate, climate experts say we need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees’s all laid out with Paris Climate Agreement, and the United States is part of that agreement. To reach that target, experts say carbon emissions will need to be cut by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and net to zero by 2050.

LG&E’s Net Zero Plan

But when Kentucky’s utility regulator asked LG&E’s chief of operations, Ronnie Beller, why he chose 2050 at the hearing in mid-July, Beller mentioned climate change. did not do it.

“2050 is a widely debated date in the industry. Bellar told regulators with the Public Service Commission.

Net zero means that greenhouse gas emissions must be as close to zero as possible by 2050, and any remaining emissions must be offset naturally or use technologies such as carbon capture. I have.

LG&E has committed to not burning coal after 2050 unless emissions can be offset in other ways. But for now, says Bellar: LG&E plans to burn fossil fuels After 2050, like natural gas and possibly coal.

“I am not aware of any decisions that we are considering that involve not burning fossil fuels after 2050. And of course I am saying that we can burn fossil fuels. There is only one,’ he said.

Offsetting emissions

Lawyers attending the hearing asked Philip Imber, LG&E’s director of environmental and federal compliance, how utilities plan to offset these emissions to achieve net-zero emissions after 2050. I asked if

“That’s not decided yet. That’s the ambitious goal. The technology isn’t defined at this point.” Invar Said.

LG&E has partnered with the University of Kentucky to research carbon capture for the past 15 years. However, LG&E told his WFPL News that it has turned away from coal-focused carbon capture research and is instead focusing on eliminating carbon emissions from natural gas plants.

We are also partnering with the UK, Power Research Institute and Low Carbon Research Institute to build a direct air capture technology that captures carbon and produces hydrogen.

Inver told utilities regulators he wasn’t sure if the technology would work, but he had a back-up plan.

“The technology may not be ready for net zero, but that means we can plant trees,” he said. Said.

in June, Proposals requested by LG&E Looking ahead to a clean energy future, energy providers will start adding capacity to the grid in 2025, but they are also looking at plans to build A 660 MW natural gas plant in Jefferson and Mercer counties.

When WFPL notified LG&E about the matter, a public utility spokesperson responded with the following partial statement:

As part of its clean energy strategy, LG&E, KU and parent company PPL are committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and not burning coal by 2050 unless carbon removal technologies can mitigate it. I’m in. Our commitment is underpinned by the actions we are and will continue to take to support low-carbon energy systems that are affordable, reliable and provide the time needed for technological progress.

Understand that as we work towards achieving our goals, technological developments, regulatory obligations, or other circumstances may evolve that may impact the economic retirement of power generation capacity, and more specifically coal power generation. We focus on reducing total emissions, using technology to reduce emissions that cannot be reduced due to cost or reliability constraints, and finally carbon offsetting the remaining emissions. We are considering the path to net zero emissions on a continuum while considering As the least preferred option. “