DTE Energy sets goal of 100% carbon neutrality by 2050 | Michigan Radio
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DTE Energy sets goal of 100% carbon neutrality by 2050

Sep 26, 2019

DTE Energy is currently building a large gas power plant in East China Township. Critics say that plant may have to be shut down in the next 20 years, at customers' expense, because of the need to move more swiftly to reduce carbon emissions.
Credit DTE Energy

DTE Energy says it is committing to achieve net carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

The term, "net carbon neutrality," means reducing carbon emissions, along with offsetting emissions by supporting outside carbon reduction efforts, in order to achieve a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions attributable to the utility.

Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer for DTE Electric, says the path to 100% carbon neutrality will require utilization of technologies that are not currently fully developed.

"We're going to work on technological advances that we see coming in the future," says Lauer. "Things like carbon capture and sequestration, storage technologies, and even advanced modular nuclear."

Carbon capture and sequestration means capturing CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels before it is released into the air, and storing it in places like stable geologic formations.

Advanced modular nuclear means the development of "mini" nuclear power plants that produce about 100-150 megawatts of electricity, as opposed to larger plants that typically can produce 1,000 megawatts. 

Such mini nuclear reactors could be used to replace gas peaker plants, that are used at times of high demand.

The goal itself is highly commendable, says Margrethe Kearney of the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

"But DTE Energy is not doing what it needs to do on the ground to make sure that it can actually achieve that goal in the quickest way possible, at the least cost to its customers in Michigan," says Kearney. Kearney says the utility is failing to maximize technologies and strategies that are available right now, at low cost. She says that includes solar energy, battery storage plus demand response, and encouraging energy efficiency. Editor's note: DTE is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.