New Milestones in Coal Ash

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With all of its coal ash basins removed from service systemwide, Duke Energy is making strong progress in finalizing the disposition of ash. This includes recycling it into concrete when doing so makes sense for customers and communities – an option that safely removes the ash from the environment.

Importantly, with the addition of three new ash reprocessing facilities that came online in late 2020 and early 2021, the company now has the capacity to recycle more coal ash than its power plants produce annually in the Carolinas.

Concrete is stronger when using ash as an ingredient, making some of the most beautiful buildings in the world possible, like the One World Trade Center in New York. But excess carbon in the ash has to be removed first – too much carbon and the concrete would be brittle.

Overall, Duke Energy recycled nearly 1 million tons of ash in 2020, along with 1.4 million tons of gypsum, another coal combustion byproduct.

Advanced technology within the three reprocessing facilities extracts this excess carbon. Notably, carbon from the ash itself powers the extraction process, resulting in a highly sustainable system. And for every ton of ash encapsulated into concrete, about 1 ton of greenhouse gas emissions is avoided by reducing the need to mine natural materials as concrete ingredients. Overall, Duke Energy recycled nearly 1 million tons of ash in 2020, along with 1.4 million tons of gypsum, another coal combustion byproduct.

Systemwide, closure work is now complete on nearly one-third of Duke Energy’s ash basins. In North Carolina, state regulators approved closure plans for the company’s remaining sites in North Carolina, confirming the plans are “protective of public health and the environment.”

The company also reached a settlement with the North Carolina Attorney General, North Carolina Public Staff and Sierra Club on safe basin closure costs, providing immediate benefits to customers and long-term certainty for the company and its investors. In Indiana, closure work is complete on six basins with 16 remaining, three of which are nearing completion. And half of the company’s South Carolina basins have already been excavated, as has the lone basin in Kentucky.

Learn more about how we are leading the industry in safely closing ash basins.