Energy system of the future

TVA’s Clean Energy Future

TVA recently announced the potential retirement of the coal fleet by 2035, and is taking steps to supply cleaner energy without impacting reliability, while maintaining some of the lowest power rates in the nation.    

“TVA is an industry leader in carbon reduction, and we are evaluating options of natural gas, solar with battery storage, and emerging technologies, to maintain our commitment to low-cost, reliable, and cleaner energy,” said Jane Elliott, senior manager, resource strategy, Enterprise Planning. “We aspire to be net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

With environmental reviews planned this summer for the potential retirement of Cumberland and Kingston Fossil Plants, TVA will evaluate replacement options for each site. One option is natural gas.

“Current and retired coal plant sites are prime locations to build new state of the art power plants,” said Larry Sparks, General Manager, Gas Operations. “It’s plug and play because much of the key infrastructure needed is already in place. Natural gas is a front runner for potential replacement generation because it provides the flexibility and reliability we need to meet demand and integrate renewables into the mix.”

Why Gas?

TVA’s carbon goals include a plan to reduce carbon emissions 70 percent by 2030, a path to approximately an 80 percent reduction by 2035, and aspiration to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Gas helps us do three things to achieve our carbon goals, while also aligning to TVA’s mandate to provide reliable electricity at the lowest feasible rate.

First, it helps us get to 80 percent carbon reduction faster by retiring the last of our coal plants by 2035. Second, it helps us increase our use of renewable energy, with an expected 10,000 MW of additional solar capacity by 2035. And most importantly, it helps us continue to lead the industry on carbon reduction while continuing to offer some of the lowest electricity costs in the country and to sustain our long-term track record of 99.999% reliability.

These three things –  low cost, low carbon and high reliability – create an incredible competitive advantage for powering our economic future and driving job creation and growth of innovative industries in the Tennessee Valley.

“We can’t accomplish our renewable goals without natural gas,” said David Bowling, vice president, Gas & Hydro, Power Operations. “Technologically, gas keeps the power system reliable as we retire coal and add renewables.”

In the short-term, natural gas generation is a cleaner technology that helps make up for generating capacity lost as coal units retire. Longer-term, natural gas enables TVA to add more renewable generation while new technologies are still being developed, such as better energy storage technology. That’s because gas generation can be turned on when renewable resources are not generating – overnight, when there’s cloud cover, or when the wind isn’t blowing – enabling us to add more renewable energy to the system and keeping the energy supply reliable.

“As we continue lowering the carbon intensity of electricity without sacrificing reliability or low cost, TVA will continue to protect the Valley’s natural resources for future generations,” said Power Operations Senior Vice President Jacinda Woodward.