Analysis of MGE's Net-Zero Carbon Goal by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

In fall 2020, the University of Wisconsin-Madison released its analysis of Madison Gas and Electric's (MGE) goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. The report compared the company's goal to the modeled pathways for the electricity sector in industrialized nations to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius. Relative to publicly available model results for carbon reductions through 2050, the analysis found MGE’s goal is in line with or more aggressive than these model benchmarks for climate solutions. 

Led by Dr. Tracey Holloway in the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, the study used climate modeling available through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the context of the IPCC's October 2018 Special Report. 

Independent analysis 

Dr. Tracey Holloway used energy use models to analyze MGE’s deep decarbonization goal. The models suggested that by 2050, emissions from electricity generation in industrialized countries should be 87% to 99% lower than the 2005 baseline. MGE has announced a plan for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is a 100% reduction from 2005 levels. MGE’s plan reflects carbon reductions consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change.

MGE's deep decarbonization strategies

MGE announced its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050 in May 2019, making it one of the first utilities to commit to net-zero carbon by mid-century. Under MGE's Energy 2030 framework for a more sustainable future, announced in November 2015, MGE has been working toward carbon dioxide emissions reductions of at least 40% by 2030 from 2005 levels, which is consistent with U.S. emissions targets established as part of the Paris Agreement on climate change. MGE has said since introducing our clean energy and carbon reduction goals – if we can go further faster through partnerships with our customers and the evolution of new technologies, we will.

MGE is on the path toward deep decarbonization, pursuing globally recognized strategies to achieve an ambitious net-zero carbon goal that is consistent with the latest climate science. And, consistent with the science, we fully expect to achieve carbon reductions of 65% by 2030. Our carbon reduction goals reflect our vision and signal our direction but do not determine our pace. We’re working to achieve deep decarbonization as quickly and as cost-effectively as we can for the benefit of all of those we serve.

To achieve deep decarbonization, MGE is growing its use of renewable energy, engaging customers around energy efficiency and working to electrify transportation, all of which are key strategies identified by the IPCC and are discussed in Dr. Holloway's analysis. MGE continues to work with Dr. Holloway and her team on further analysis of deep decarbonization strategies locally. 

The UW-Madison report, Interpreting Global Energy Scenarios for Emissions Planning at the Utility Scale, also is available at