Natural Gas Enables Cleaner Energy Future

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Natural gas continues to play a central role as Duke Energy moves toward a cleaner, lower-carbon energy future. This low-cost fuel source is helping the company retire coal plants faster and balance the intermittent nature of renewables.

In 2020, the company’s new natural gas-fired Asheville Combined Cycle Station in Buncombe County, North Carolina, became operational. The power plant replaced a 56-year-old, higher carbon-emitting, coal-fired plant.

The natural gas plant is 75 percent more efficient than the retired coal plant. In addition, the new plant’s carbon dioxide emissions are 60 percent lower (per megawatt hour), sulfur dioxide emissions are 99 percent lower, and nitrogen oxides emissions are 40 percent lower than the coal plant’s emissions. Mercury emissions have been eliminated.

Duke Energy also has retrofitted two units at its coal‑fired Rogers Energy Complex near Cliffside, North Carolina, enabling the power plant to burn a combination of natural gas and coal – rather than coal only – to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions.

A similar natural gas retrofitting project has been completed on one unit (and is underway on a second unit) at Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Steam Station, a coal-fired power plant in Stokes County, North Carolina. Natural gas retrofitting work also is underway at the company’s Marshall Steam Station, a coal-fired power plant in Catawba County, North Carolina.

In addition, Duke Energy in 2019 continued expansion work at its Lincoln Combustion Turbine Station, a natural gas-fired power plant near Denver, North Carolina. The company is adding a new unit that will significantly increase the plant’s electricity output, particularly during periods of high customer demand. When fully operational in 2024, the new unit will be about 34 percent more efficient than the plant’s 16 existing units.

Meanwhile, legal and regulatory work on another natural gas project – the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline – continues. The approximately 600-mile underground natural gas pipeline, partly owned by Duke Energy, would start in West Virginia and traverse Virginia and eastern North Carolina before ending in Robeson County, North Carolina.

The pipeline’s natural gas would be used in Virginia and North Carolina to fuel power plants and industrial facilities, heat homes and businesses, support local economic development, and ensure that natural gas utilities have enough natural gas to meet growing customer demand.

Additional court and regulatory rulings related to the pipeline’s review and approval process are expected in 2020.