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FL Company Announces Solar to Replace Gas Plants

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

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Late last month, Florida Power and Light, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, announced that once two natural gas plants are retired, the company will be building the world's largest solar-powered battery system, totaling 409-megawatts of capacity, roughly four times the battery installation built by Tesla at a Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia, the world’s current largest.

Tesla’s battery at Hornsdale has a capacity and power rating of 100 MW, 129 MWh. FPL, which supplies power to roughly 10 million customers in Florida, noted that this plan, paired with other and other related moves, will save customers more than $100 million, and will eliminate more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Converting Gas Plants to Solar-Powered Battery

The plan includes the construction of a 409 MW, 900 MWh, battery at the future FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center. From there, the batteries will be charged by a pre-existing solar plant in Manatee County.

According to the utility company, the storage center is part of a plan to retire two natural gas generating units from the 1970s at FPL's neighboring power plant. FPL is also planning to implement smaller battery installations across the state, as well as other solar power plants and upgrades to existing combustion turbines to account for 1,638 MW of capacity.

Smitt / Getty Images

Late last month, Florida Power and Light, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, announced that once two natural gas plants were retired, the company would be building the world's largest solar-powered battery system, totaling 409-megawatts of capacity, roughly four times the battery installation built by Tesla at a Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia, the world’s current largest.

Though FPL generated 70 percent of its electricity from natural gas and 4 percent from coal, according to a 2016 annual report from NextEra, the utility has been making gradual changes over the past 20 years to replace oil-burning plants with natural gas plants and is now moving to replace gas plants with cleaner sources.

"This is a monumental milestone in realizing the full benefits of solar power and yet another example of how FPL is working hard to position Florida as the global gold standard for clean energy," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.

"Even as we aggressively execute on our plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030, we never lose sight of finding innovative ways to bring our customers the benefits of solar energy, even when the sun's not shining. Replacing a large, aging fossil fuel plant with a mega battery that's adjacent to a large solar plant is another world-first accomplishment and while I'm very pleased of that fact, what I'm most proud of is that our team remained committed to developing this clean energy breakthrough while saving customers money and keeping their bills among the lowest in the nation."

According to Ars Technica, FPL did not report what company would provide the batteries, how much they would cost or what kind of batteries would be used. However, the utility also plans to close down its last remaining coal plant in Florida by the end of this year. (FPL has already shut down two coal plants in Jacksonville, one in 2016 and one in 2018.)

In similar news, as of early January, Mount Tom Power Station, a former coal-and-oil plant, located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in operation for more than 50 years prior to its closing in 2014, was converted into over 17,208 solar panels and a battery storage system, collectively generating 5.8 MW of power.


Tagged categories: NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Solar; Solar energy

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