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World's Second-Largest Solar Thermal Power Plant to Be Built in Florida

April 13, 2009

By mid 2010, Florida Power and Light (FPL) will construct the  Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, a 75-megawatt (MW) plant that will sit on 500 acres near Indiantown, Florida—adjacent to FPL's existing combined-cycle power plant.  The plant is both the world's first hybrid energy facility and the largest solar plant of any kind outside of California.  Two other solar facilities have homes in Florida—one at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the other in DeSoto County—and with the new plant, they will collectively produce 110 MW of electric power.

The parabolic trough system with about 180,000 mirrors will provide 155,000 MWh of electricity annually.  The plant does not include energy storage, so electricity will only be generated during daylight hours.  Construction costs are estimated between $550 and $600 million and was contracted by Lauren Engineers and Constructors, an Abilene-based company who also built the 64-MW Nevada Solar One plant in Boulder City, Nevada.  More than 1,000 people will work on the project, and Lauren expects more jobs to open in Abilene as a result of the Florida solar plant development.

By adding this solar plant, Florida expects to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.75 million tons over 30 years, which is the equivalent of removing 18,700 cars from the road annually for the life of the plant.

For their state's energy needs, Florida currently uses a fuel mix heavily weighted (52%) toward natural gas, the majority from the Gulf of Mexico.  Only 2% of Florida's power is from renewable energy sources.  Florida has taken necessary action to promote renewable energy because of rising fuel prices, the need to maintain a diverse fuel mix, and environmental considerations.

“Florida'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,” said Florida Governor Charlie Crist.  “[The Martin Next-Generation Solar Energy Center] is a significant step in that direction.”

Florida's Legislature passed a bill in July 2008 that focused on tax credits and loosening state-controlled lands to develop renewable energy, and Florida Power and Light committed $2.4 billion to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.