FPL breaks ground on first commercial-scale solar center

ARCADIA, FLORIDA - Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) announced the groundbreaking for FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will bring commercial-scale solar photovoltaic power to Florida for the very first time.

At 25 megawatts, the plant will be the largest photovoltaic solar facility in the nation when it is complete at the end of 2009. The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will use 90,000 photovoltaic panels on 180 acres of land and provide enough electricity to power more than 3,000 homes, which is nearly 20 percent of the population in DeSoto County.

“We’re proud to be the company that is bringing commercial-scale solar power to the Sunshine State. Solar power will help promote a new clean-energy economy in Florida, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and address global climate change through the production of emissions-free energy,” said FPL Group President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Robo.

Common on rooftops, solar photovoltaic is the technology most people envision when they think of solar energy. Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight directly into electricity, which can be fed onto the electrical grid without the need of a turbine generator.

Technological advances are now making photovoltaic panels practical on a large scale.

The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will use highly efficient SunPower panels and proven SunPower Tracker technology. The Tracker automatically follows the sun’s movement throughout the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over fixed systems.

The facility will provide significant economic benefits to DeSoto County, creating more than 200 jobs during peak construction and providing more than $2 million in annual tax revenues by the end of 2010 to help boost the local economy.

Solar photovoltaic power also provides significant environmental benefits. It is carbon-free, uses no water, and produces no waste. Over the life of the facility, the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will avoid the release of more than 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to taking more than 4,500 cars off the road every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the electricity generated by this facility will reduce the use of fossil fuels in Florida by more than 277,000 barrels of oil and seven billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center is one of three new solar facilities FPL is building in Florida, which will total 110 megawatts of clean, renewable solar energy capacity. FPL broke ground in December 2008 on the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will be the world’s first hybrid solar energy plant and the second largest solar thermal plant in the nation.

It will generate 75 megawatts of solar energy once it is fully operational in 2010. FPL will build a third facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which will add 10 megawatts to the state’s photovoltaic solar capacity.

“These are the kind of technologies we need to bring to Florida to ensure that the state is a key player in the energy economy of the future. We envision a Florida ‘CleanTech Corridor’ spanning the peninsula and filled with renewable and other clean-energy projects. The goal is to make Florida a magnet for renewable manufacturers, for research dollars at the state’s universities, and for good-paying jobs in a dynamic growth industry,” Robo said.

FPL’s three solar projects will make Florida the No. 2 producer of solar energy in the nation and strengthen FPL Group’s position as the nation’s clean energy leader.


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