Dominion Energy has been a leader in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. We have cut both carbon dioxide and methane emissions substantially, proactively, and well before federal or state legal requirements to do so.
As we have lowered emissions — sometimes further and faster than our own self-imposed targets required — we have re-evaluated our goals to see how much more we might achieve. In early 2019, we set new, more ambitious targets: a 55 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 (from a 2005 baseline) and a 50 percent reduction in methane emissions by 2030 (from a 2010 baseline). In addition, we aimed to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Continued analysis in 2019 led to a new target that we announced in early 2020: net zero emissions by 2050. This goal covers carbon and methane from both our electricity generation and natural gas operations in all the states where we do business.
In announcing the sale of substantially all of our gas transmission and storage assets, we expect to immediately upon closing reduce the emissions profile of our natural gas business by 50 percent.
As we work toward net zero emissions by 2050, we also will focus on near-term progress. Under net zero, the company will reduce methane emissions 65 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040 (from 2010 levels). Further, the company has committed to invest in carbon-beneficial renewable natural gas (RNG) projects that will capture an amount of methane from U.S. farms equivalent to any remaining methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the company’s natural gas operations, making Dominion Energy’s gas infrastructure business net zero 10 years before the overall company.
To reach these goals, in the near term we will seek extension of the licenses of our zero-carbon nuclear fleet in Virginia, rapidly expand wind and solar, invest in carbon-beneficial renewable natural gas, expand our industry-leading methane emissions-reduction programs, and use low-carbon natural gas to support the integration of wind and solar into the grid by mitigating intermittency issues and ensuring around-the-clock reliability as higher-carbon coal- and oil-fired facilities are phased out.
These changes will accelerate the company along a trajectory we have traveled for more than a decade. In 2005, our enterprise-wide power generation involved approximately 35 percent zero-carbon sources. Based on current forecasts, we project that the total share of zero-carbon generation should rise to around 70 percent by 2035*.* Based on the following assumptions: (1) Enterprise-wide generation (MWh) includes Contracted Generation, DESC, and DEV; (2) DEV forecasted generation mix assumes VA IRP Plan B filed in May 2020; (3) DESC forecasted generation mix assumes DESC IRP Plan RP2; (4) Contracted Generation assumes generation mix is the same 2019 actuals.
Over the long term, net zero will require supportive legislative and regulatory policies, advancements in technology, and broader investments across the economy. This includes investments in large-scale battery storage, hydrogen, advanced nuclear technology, and carbon capture. A more refined pathway will be laid out in Dominion Energy’s next Climate Report, development of which is in process.
While we are not the first utility to set a net zero goal, we are among the largest and most operationally diverse to do so for both electric and natural gas operations. Moreover, we consider it imperative that our goal, and the means by which we propose to reach it, be credible. Above all, that means that we will always pursue it with our customers in mind. Our customers expect a clean environment. They also expect safe, reliable, and affordable energy. We intend to meet all of those expectations.
We also propose to reach our goal without imagined quantum leaps in technology. The technological improvements we anticipate are extrapolations from existing applied science, such as battery storage and carbon capture, that have already been proven.
Under net zero, we do not propose to eliminate all greenhouse-gas emissions. Rather, we will prevent emissions to a technologically and economically feasible point, and net out any remaining emissions through a combination of carbon-beneficial technologies (such as renewable natural gas) and other verifiable methods, including reforestation. Likewise, we do not expect every business segment to attain net zero emissions — but some will go beyond net zero, so that Dominion Energy as a whole will attain net zero enterprise-wide.
Furthermore, we intend to be fully accountable for our performance. As we work toward the 2050 goal, we will be open and transparent about the progress we are making through regular public disclosures. That includes transparency in the form of our required Integrated Resource Plans, which we file in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah. In addition, our emissions commitments are outlined in this annual Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility report. We also make disclosures as a member of the One Future coalition and through other information we share voluntarily with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and non-profit organizations, such as CDP.
“While we are not the first utility to set a net zero goal, we are among the largest and most operationally diverse to do so for both electric and natural gas operations.”
While Dominion Energy’s net zero goal aligns with recent developments in public policy, including the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) (which became effective in July 2020), our clean-air commitments, including net zero, preceded such legislation. Rather than drive our commitments, the increasing focus on addressing climate change reflects the soundness of the company’s long-term strategy and its values-driven approach to doing business. And although we did not set out with the aim in mind when we developed our long-term strategy, our strategy has helped ensure that we would be ready to meet evolving public policy requirements and new compliance targets. In the coming months we plan to issue a Climate Report that will further refine a roadmap to net zero emissions and analyze the business risks presented by different climate and climate-policy scenarios.
For further explanation of our approach to net zero and the business initiatives we have launched as part of it, see the Environment section of this report.