Choose State Change Location
About Us » New Generation » New Nuclear Generation » Environmental Impact

Environmental Impact

Building a Sustainable Future

Now more than ever, Duke Energy has a responsibility to produce and deliver energy to our customers that’s reliable, affordable and increasingly clean.

That’s where sustainability comes in. We believe sustainability means doing business in a way that is good for people, the planet and profits. And as one of the largest electric service providers in the U.S., we know our operations have an impact on the environment.

We’re working to reduce our eco-footprint by upgrading environmental controls at many of our fossil fuel-powered generation plants; retiring older coal units; pursuing the development of new nuclear stations; investing heavily in renewable energy and smart grid technology; and pioneering new programs and offers to help our customers become more energy efficient.

For a closer look at our progress to becoming a more sustainable company, please visit our Sustainability page.


Did you know?
Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, clean-air electricity source that can be expanded widely to produce large amounts of energy.


A key aspect of Duke Energy’s sustainability success is our safe, reliable and efficient plant operations. The average capacity factor for our nuclear fleet – a measure of reliability – has remained at greater than 90 percent for the past 10 years.

Sources of Emission-Free Electricity 2010


Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Did you know?
Each year, nuclear energy prevents the emission of 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — nearly as much CO2 as is released from all U.S. passenger cars — by taking the place of fossil fueled electricity that otherwise would be used.


In 1970, the United States government took action to reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gases by passing the Clean Air Act. The act established strict guidelines for the particulate and gaseous emissions of U.S. power plants and industrial facilities. The first nuclear plants began producing electricity in 1973 and have steadily contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions ever since. 

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

  • Producing no carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide, nuclear energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions by substituting for fossil fuels that otherwise would have been burned to generate electricity. 
  • Since work began at the Lee Nuclear site, we have reused 63,725 cubic yards of concrete for crusher-run in road beds, as well as riprap around site ponds.
  • Duke Energy has recycled 6,200 gross tons of steel from old buildings demolished during the Lee Nuclear site preparation for reuse.


Did you know?
Nuclear energy has the lowest impact to natural habitat of any energy source. A typical nuclear plant takes up 1.5 square miles in area.


The Nature Conservancy released a study on land use for new energy production and reported that nuclear energy uses the least land per unit of energy generated. 



Land Use Intensity by Energy Source

The values represent estimated energy production by nuclear and renewable energy sources in 2030, measured in km2 of affected area per terawatt-hour produced in that year. By this measure, coal is 9.7, natural gas 18.6, and petroleum 44.7. (Source: Nuclear Energy Institute)