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Xcel Energy tests its ambitious carbon vision

New targets supported by climate science

MINNEAPOLIS (March 5, 2019) – Xcel Energy’s vision to deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers is now backed by a scientific study. The company announced today it verified its groundbreaking carbon goals in a newly published report — an industry first for in-depth analysis. It partnered with climate scientists with the University of Denver to confirm its vision is consistent with temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement.

As a national leader in clean energy, Xcel Energy is on a quest to deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. In 2018, the company reduced carbon emissions 38 percent from 2005 levels, as it aims to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030 company-wide. This significant progress comes as the company adds new wind and solar to its energy portfolio while retiring coal plants and transitioning with cleaner natural gas.

“We are well positioned for the future and are focused on putting the right technology and policies in place to make our vision a reality,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO, Xcel Energy. “Our 2018 carbon results demonstrate the significant gains we’re making in the transition to clean energy while still maintaining safe, reliable and affordable service for our customers.”

Xcel Energy’s newly published report outlines the path to achieving its ambitious carbon reductions, as well as the results of the scientific study. The climate modeling experts concluded the company’s emissions reduction trajectory under its carbon vision is consistent with electric sector emissions in scenarios likely to achieve the temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement.

Carbon reductions realized

In 2018, Xcel Energy cut carbon emissions an additional 3 percent in one year. This reduction is notable because, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, carbon emissions for the electric power sector increased 2 percent in 2018. Xcel Energy’s lower emissions are the result of continued high performance from the company’s nuclear plants, reduced coal generation, and an increase in generation from natural gas and some renewables. Xcel Energy’s new 600-megawatt Rush Creek wind farm in Colorado also came online last year, the company’s largest wind project to date. 

The path to carbon-free electricity for customers

Xcel Energy studied many pathways for achieving its goals and its carbon report identifies key elements for reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030. These elements include:

  • Adding thousands of megawatts of wind and solar power to its system
  • Incorporating both natural gas generation and battery storage to help balance high levels of renewables
  • Retiring more coal units or changing coal unit operations to reduce emissions
  • Operating our nuclear plants through their licenses
  • Supporting the strategic electrification of certain end uses, such as transportation, to create flexible demand
  • Investing in critical infrastructure, such as transmission and advanced grid technology for our distribution system

Beyond 2030, the company will need new carbon-free 24/7 technologies that are not yet commercially available at the cost and scale required. To serve customers with 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, the company is calling for more research, innovation and demonstration of advanced carbon-free technologies, such as power to gas, seasonal energy storage, advanced nuclear or small modular reactors, carbon capture and storage, deep rock geothermal or other technologies.

Xcel Energy’s carbon report — Building a Carbon-free Futureis available at, along with the full analysis by climate modelers.


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About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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