NextEra Energy has reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 33 percent over the past decade due to significant investments in low- and no-carbon power generation, according to the company’s 2010 Sustainability Report (PDF). In 2009, 93 percent of its power comes from low- and no-emission fuel sources including wind, solar, natural gas, and nuclear.
From 2000 through 2009, NextEra Energy’s CO2 emissions rate declined from 985 pounds per megawatt-hour to 657 pounds per megawatt-hour. The company has invested billions of dollars to build the largest wind energy business and third largest nuclear power fleet while also adding a significant amount of new combined-cycle natural gas capacity. As a result, the company’s CO2 emissions rate is nearly 50 percent below the U.S. electric power sector average of 1,297 pounds per megawatt-hour.
According to NRDC, NextEra Energy is the nation’s fourth largest electric power producer, yet its overall emissions and emission rates for CO2, SO2 and NOx are significantly lower than many of its peers, which it attributes to the company’s expanded wind power generation. A Ceres reports ranks NextEra 86th among the 100 top power companies for its CO2 emissions rate, 77th for NOx, and 75th for SO2 emissions, based on 2008 data.
Since 1990, the company has increased its electric power generation by 230 percent, while reducing its emissions rates of CO2 by 31 percent, NOx by 88 percent, and SO2 by 87 percent.
At the end of 2009, NextEra Energy remained the nation’s No. 1 producer of wind energy, with more than 7,500 megawatts of installed capacity (a typical nuclear plant has about 1,000 megawatts of capacity). The company estimates that it will avoid more than 14 million tons of CO2, nearly 31,000 tons of NOx, and more than 33,000 tons of SO2 from wind generation alone.
The company was also the No. 1 operator of solar power with 335 megawatts in service, including the largest solar power plant in the world in California’s Mojave Desert. Some of the projects include a contract to sell 250 megawatts of solar thermal power from its proposed Genesis Solar Energy Project to Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
The company also commissioned the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in October 2009, bringing commercial scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power to Florida for the first time. NextEra touts the 25-MW plant as the largest solar facility in the nation. Over 30 years, the plant is expected to avoid 575,000 tons of greenhouse gases and decrease fossil fuel use by 277,000 barrels of oil and 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
A second Florida solar facility was commissioned in April 2010 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which has added 10 megawatts to Florida’s solar PV capacity. Over 30 years, this facility will prevent the emission of more than 227,000 tons of greenhouse gases, and decrease fossil fuel use by approximately 122,000 barrels of oil and 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The company also completed a 1-megawatt solar array for NASA that is helping power the U.S. space program.
Construction is also underway at its Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, with completion scheduled for December 2010, and the new Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center, which will be capable of generating 1,250 megawatts of electricity, is expected to open in 2013.
The 75-megwatt Martin facility will be the world’s first hybrid plant that adds solar power to an existing combined-cycle natural gas turbine and will be the second largest thermal solar plant in the United States, according to the company. The Martin facility will avoid more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases and decrease fossil fuel use by approximately 600,000 barrels of oil and 41 billion cubic feet of gas over 30 years, according to the company.
In addition, NextEra is the nation’s largest generator of electricity from natural gas, operates eight nuclear power units in four states, and is a leading producer of hydroelectric power in Maine, with 81 generating units totaling approximately 359 net megawatts of power.
In 2009, the company generated 15.8 million megawatt-hours of electricity from its wind farms, compared with 12.2 million megawatt-hours from its largest nuclear plant. Overall, 4.2 percent of the company’s electricity was generated from coal, compared with an industry average of 45.4 percent.
The company’s investor-owned utility, Florida Power & Light, was No. 2 in the nation in cumulative electricity saved through demand-side management programs through the end of 2009. Through its investments in combined-cycle natural gas generation, FPL has also reduced its emissions profile. The utility alone has a carbon dioxide emissions rate 35 percent below the national average.
Under the World Wildlife Fund’s PowerSwitch! program, NextEra is committed to a 15 percent improvement in electric generation efficiency by 2020 from a 2002 baseline. As a result of its investments in high-efficiency combined-cycle natural gas electric generating plants, which displace electricity generated from older and less efficient plants, the company exceeded its 15 percent efficiency improvement goal in 2009, 11 years ahead of its target date.
The company estimates that the increased efficiency will avoid nearly 6.5 million tons of CO2 in 2009. Based on current projections, NextEra estimates that its power plant efficiency will be improved by more than 25 percent by its target date of 2020, resulting in the avoidance of more than 14 million tons of CO2 per year.
NextEra also is working to decrease its carbon footprint beyond the electric system infrastructure. As an example, the company has 250 hybrid cars and trucks including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) — on the road today, with plans to convert one-third of its 2,400 company cars to hybrids by the end of 2010.
According to the report, the company has doubled the size of its hybrid vehicle fleet each year for the past three years, saving more than 149,000 gallons of fuel in 2009, reducing its carbon footprint by 1,325 metric tons of CO2.
The company is also greening its facilities. As an example, the company installed three solar arrays in 2009 and 2010 on the rooftop of its corporate headquarters in Juno Beach, Fla. The company expect to have 25 kilowatts of solar capacity in operation by the end of 2010, which will help NextEra prevent more than 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
The company is also converting interior office lighting to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) approved units, which is expected to improve energy efficiency by 30 percent, and has installed waterless urinals, which is saving up to 2.1 million gallons of water per year.
The company also has reduced its water withdrawal rates, excluding the water that passes through its hydroelectric facilities. In 2009, the company withdrew approximately 1.9 trillion gross gallons of water from different sources. This represents a withdrawal rate of 11,900 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity produced, down from 13,600 gallons in 2008 and 13,900 gallons in 2007.
The company attributes the reduction to an increase in renewable energy sources and the commissioning of several new combined-cycle power plants that withdraw substantially fewer gallons of water per megawatt produced than older conventional power plants.