District Energy St. Paul has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Our efforts over the years have advanced the system’s performance and environmental profile, and in 2019, the team built on this momentum with completion of a carbon neutrality plan for the system, resulting in the vision for decarbonization. As we move toward our new goal, we will continue providing customers with sustainable and reliable energy solutions, while also staying true to our commitment to being cost-competitive.
District Energy has already made notable progress on carbon reduction targets over the years, reducing carbon emissions by 70% between 2000 and 2019. This achievement was made possible through increasing efficiency, enhancing customer building performance, improving data and controls management, and upgrading production with higher efficiency equipment.
The integration of renewable energy, through solar thermal and biomass-fired combined heat and power, has helped the system achieve nearly 45% carbon-free heat. In 2019, the system retired the use of coal two years ahead of schedule, after a decade-long reduction effort. All of these improvements were accomplished while keeping rate increases below the rate of inflation for 37 years.
Significant technology and renewable fuel advancements will lead to substantial carbon improvements; however, it is still important that the operations target year-to-year progress. To achieve regular reductions, the team also has an aspirational goal of 7% reductions each year, based on a commitment to efficiency improvements in production, distribution, and customer buildings. Although we know it will be a significant challenge to achieve this number every year, we want to emphasize the recommendations from the United Nations Environment Programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6 % each year between 2020 and 2030. We hope to use this objective to advocate for the importance of these reductions with our customers and other stakeholders. A new energy efficiency program is launching in 2020.
To learn more and to read Ever-Green Energy’s first-ever corporate social responsibility report (CSR) “2019 Impact Report” view the District Energy section of the report on the Ever-Green website.