With Florida and the nation facing the twin challenges of climate change and energy security, FPLÂ’s new 75-megawatt Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center marks an important early step in FloridaÂ’s quest to use more sun to power the Sunshine State.
Â“FloridaÂ’s future growth and economic strength depends on how we address climate change, and we know we can reduce greenhouse gases by using fewer fossil fuels and more natural energy sources like solar,Â” said Gov. Charlie Crist. Â“This solar facility is a significant step in that direction.Â”
As the first hybrid solar facility in the world to combine a solar-thermal field with a combined-cycle natural gas power plant, the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will use less fossil fuel when heat from the sun is available to help produce the steam needed to generate electricity. This innovative technology will help protect customers from volatile fossil fuel costs as it reduces FloridaÂ’s carbon footprint. The solar facility will consist of approximately 180,000 mirrors over roughly 500 acres of land at the existing FPL Martin Plant location.
Â“The next generation of Floridians is counting on us to address the most pressing energy challenges of our time. With the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, we will capture the power of the sun to fight climate change and provide the state with clean, affordable energy,Â” said FPL Group Chairman and CEO Lew Hay.
Â“At this innovative facility, each sunrise will be the equivalent of easing our foot off the gas pedal as solar power is being produced. With the continued support of Gov. Crist, the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission, FPL will do more Â– much more Â– in the coming years to build FloridaÂ’s renewable energy industry,Â” said Hay.
Gov. Crist has made clean energy and protecting FloridaÂ’s environment a priority since taking office.
"The Governor and I want to commend FPL for being a leader in the use of solar energy as the worldÂ’s No. 1 producer of solar thermal energy and one of the largest generators of wind power,Â” said Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. Â“We believe there is no better place than here, in the Sunshine State, to lead the way in expanding solar technology to homes and businesses."
The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will provide enough power to serve about 11,000 homes. Over 30 years, the solar facility will prevent the emissions of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road every year for the life of the project, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The implementation of solar thermal technology will also decrease fossil-fuel usage by approximately 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 600,000 barrels of oil.
The facility will be the nationÂ’s second-largest solar energy facility when it is fully operational in 2010.
The Martin facility is the largest of three solar projects FPL is building in Florida. With a combined total of 110 megawatts of emissions-free energy, the facilities will make Florida the No. 2 producer of solar energy nationwide and will avoid nearly 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide over the lives of the plants.
In addition to the Martin facility, FPL will also build two other solar projects in Florida Â– one at NASAÂ’s Kennedy Space Center and the other in Desoto County. These facilities will add 35 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity to the state. Combined, these projects help strengthen FPL GroupÂ’s position as the nationÂ’s clean energy leader.