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Duke Energy (DUK) Starts 22.6-MW Solar Project Construction

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Duke Energy Corp. (DUK - Free Report) recently commenced the construction of the 22.6-megawatt (MW) Stony Knoll Solar power plant in Surry County, NC. The project will be owned and operated by Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions, a new brand that includes Duke Energy Renewables.

The solar plant will contain about 76,600 bifacial modules with single-axis tracking, manufactured by Trina Solar. On completion, the facility will be able to power approximately 5,000 homes in the region and will become the largest solar plant in Surry County. Duke Energy currently targets to start the plant’s commercial operations by the end of 2021.

Duke Energy’s Growth Prospects in North Carolina

As the entire United States is transitioning toward a clean energy economy, the Carolinas are leading the nation in terms of carbon emission reduction in the electric sector. In particular, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, in 2019, announced its projections of substantial increases in renewable energy generation to approximately 33,000 GWh by 2030.

To this end, it is imperative to mention that Duke Energy operates 40 solar facilities in North Carolina and maintains about 3,700 megawatts (MW) of solar power on its energy grid in the state, which is capable of powering about 700,000 homes and businesses at peak output. In 2020, the company connected almost 350 MW of solar power capacity, which included major projects such as the 69-MW Maiden Creek solar facility in Catawba County and the 25-MW Gaston County solar facility in Bessemer City.

Looking ahead, in a bid to further expand solar power growth in North Carolina, Duke Energy started the construction of the 22.6-MW Speedway Solar power plant in Cabarrus County toward the end of May 2021. This plant, which will contain about 77,000 bifacial modules manufactured by JinkoSolar (JKS - Free Report) , will be able to power approximately 5,000 homes in the region.

Notably, the new 22.6-MW Stony Knoll plant, along with the recently commenced Speedway Solar power plant, will certainly boost the company’s renewable energy prospects within the region.

Adoption of Clean Energy by Utilities

Realizing the need for and advantage of the rapid shift toward clean energy, utilities across the board are enhancing their renewable portfolio and have pledged for reducing fossil fuel dependence at a faster pace.

Following this strategy, Duke Energy aims to achieve significant carbon neutrality and reduce existing carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Apart from Duke Energy, other major utilities across the United States are following suit.

For instance, Xcel Energy (XEL - Free Report) aims to achieve an 80% carbon reduction by 2030 and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.  Likewise, American Electric Power (AEP - Free Report) aims at reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80%, by 2050.

Zacks Rank & Price Movement

Duke Energy currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In a year’s time, shares of Duke Energy have increased 24.8% compared with the industry’s 9.1% growth.

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