Net zero. We’ve talked about it in the past, but what does it mean for the future of Michigan’s energy landscape, our economy, and residents, businesses, and communities across the state?
What is Net Zero, Again?
Even if you haven’t heard it referred to by name, we bet you’ve heard of a net zero strategy.
Delta Airlines has retired over 200 aircrafts and replaced them with new planes that are 25% more fuel efficient; Delta is also investing in sustainable aviation fuels, an alternative to fossil fuel. Hotels like Marriott are also working to lessen their carbon footprint by increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste, and cutting emissions.
These are just two examples of different net zero strategies, which essentially aim to find a balance between emitting carbon emissions and taking actions to capture, store, reduce, or eliminate them so that the net result is zero emissions. (See what we did there?)
Michigan Sets Ambitious Net Zero Goals
Michigan’s local energy providers, state government, and many local businesses and organizations have all set ambitious net zero energy goals in recent years.
Local Providers Set the Bar for Energy Companies Nationwide
In 2017, DTE Energy became the “first energy company in Michigan and one of two in the nation to step forward and commit to an 80% carbon reduction goal” by 2040. In 2019, it upped the ante by pledging to “achieve net zero carbon emissions in its electric company by 2050.”
Consumers Energy set its goal to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and is planning to retire its coal plants by 2025. Increasing investments in clean energy, carbon capture, energy storage, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency are among the various ways local energy providers plan to meet these goals.
Michigan Government Steps Up Its Commitment to Carbon Neutrality
In September 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order committing Michigan to “going carbon-neutral by 2050,” which will benefit Michigan’s environment and economy while helping “eliminate its dependence on out-of-state fossil fuels.”
This Earth Day, Governor Whitmer announced another goal to transition state-owned facilities to “100% renewable energy by 2025.” To meet both of these goals, partnerships with local energy providers to increase production of clean and renewable energy will be critical.
Michigan Businesses, Industries, and Organizations Step Up
Reaching our net zero goals will take all of us working together to reduce or avoid emissions. Fortunately, Michigan businesses, organizations, and consumers have also been ramping up their efforts to do just that.
Earlier this year, General Motors committed to going carbon-neutral “in its global products and operations by 2040” while also working to “eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035.”
The University of Michigan has announced a similar goal to “achieve carbon neutrality” through investments in geothermal heating and cooling, electric buses, and energy efficiency. The school aims to achieve carbon neutrality for all greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, with a phased approach targeting specific types of emissions along the way.
How Will Michigan’s Energy Providers and Consumers Get to Net Zero?
Reaching net zero requires varying approaches in different sectors of our economy, government, and even in our personal lives. Achieving net zero for energy will require a combination of:
DTE and Consumers’ Progress on Net Zero (So Far)
Michigan’s local energy providers have hit the ground running when it comes to achieving our net zero energy goals.
Earlier this year, DTE Energy began operating three new universal wind parks, two in Isabella County (now our state’s largest wind parks) and another in Delta County in the Upper Peninsula. These projects are part of MIGreenPower, which helps consumers increase their use of renewable energy.
Consumers Energy continues to invest in expanding its solar energy footprint across the state and recently announced an agreement to purchase 30 megawatts of renewable electricity from a new solar project in development in western Michigan.
These steps, in combination with the progress local businesses and organizations are making to implement their own net zero goals, will be critical as Michigan continues to pursue its net zero goals.