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Electric Power and Its Role in Sustainable, Clean Energy

Because electric power plays such an important role in industry, businesses can rely on utilities to help them achieve their sustainability goals.

What does the energy of tomorrow look like? It's a smarter, future-proofed grid delivering improved reliability to meet changing needs.

Transformational Changes Toward Net-Zero Carbon Emissions

Utilities are transforming their electricity generating portfolios. Ameren, for example, has a long-range goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The transformation is neither simple nor something that can be achieved overnight. Broadly speaking, utilities are approaching this goal from many angles:

  • Add clean, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to their generating portfolios.
  • Maintain, and where possible, increase existing carbon-free generation capacity such as hydroelectric and nuclear energy.
  • Preserve energy affordability and reliability for residential and business customers, 24/7.
  • Strengthen and further develop electrification and energy efficiency programs for business and residential customers.
  • Progressively scale down and fully retire combustion-based generating technologies that produce CO2.
  • Engage in research and development of entirely new energy generation and storage technologies.  

A Look at Elements of Clean Energy Generating Portfolios

The shift from fossil fuels to clean generating technologies is accelerating. On the path to reducing emissions, utilities often employ a mix of different generating technologies to maintain reliability and affordability.

Solar

Most new solar generation projects consist of arrays of solar panels that use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. The scale and purpose of these facilities range from very large ground-based installations to business-owned rooftop arrays to smaller community and neighborhood solar installations.

As an example of a large-scale facility, Ameren Missouri’s O’Fallon Renewable Energy Center, the largest investor-owned universal solar facility in Missouri, includes more than 19,000 solar panels with a generating capacity of 5.7 megawatts, and is the organization’s largest solar resource. On a more local scale, a BJC HealthCare facility in St Louis, Missouri has installed a 4,500-solar panel rooftop system with a 1.8 megawatt generating capacity.

Wind

Already an important piece of utility generating portfolios, wind energy will play an increasingly important role in driving the transition away from fossil fuels. Wind power has emerged as one of the most efficient renewable energy generating technologies. Ameren Missouri has recently added two large scale wind energy assets turbines to its generating portfolio, the 400-megawatt High Prairie Renewable Energy Center and the 300-megawatt Atchison Renewable Energy Center.  

Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric power is one of the oldest large-scale renewable energy generating technologies. Typically based on damming rivers to create impoundments or reservoirs, they use water to operate turbines connected to electrical generators. The larger and deeper the reservoir, the more energy hydroelectric systems can generate, so many are located in mountainous regions. However, lower-head hydroelectric dams are also common on the Missouri and Mississippi River systems as well as others.

In addition to providing the source of hydroelectric power, dam impoundments also provide exceptional opportunities for recreation, residential communities, and wildlife habitat. A notable example is Lake of the Ozarks, a 54,000-acre impoundment in central Missouri that supplies Ameren Missouri’s Bagnell Dam, which produces 624,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.

Pumped Storage Hydroelectric

This energy technology uses low-cost grid power generated during off-peak hours to pump water to higher-elevation reservoirs that supply turbines to generate electricity needed in high-demand periods. It is one of the most efficient energy storage methods and can rely on electricity generated by renewables like solar and wind, or the cleanest combustion fuels like natural gas. Ameren Missouri’s Taum Sauk Energy Center is one such facility, with a 3,600 megawatt-hour storage capacity.

Landfill Gas

Instead of escaping to the atmosphere, methane from decomposing trash in landfills can be captured to produce reliable, environmentally responsible electricity. Ameren Missouri works in partnership with the largest landfill in Missouri to operate a 15-megawatt landfill gas generating facility near St. Louis.

Many elements are necessary to achieve sustainable green and clean energy. These are a few examples of what utilities are implementing to provide safe and reliable energy in the future.

Learn more about how Ameren is committed to clean energy and programs.

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