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FPL Launches Clean Solar Energy on Florida's Space Coast

artist's concept of the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center
Artist’s concept of the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center.

Officials from NASA joined Florida Power & Light Company to commission FPL’s Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center. The new solar photovoltaic power facility is the result of a unique public-private partnership between NASA and FPL and demonstrates both organizations’ commitment to bringing clean-energy solutions to the state.

FPL’s Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is located on NASA property at Kennedy Space Center and is producing an estimated 10 megawatts of clean, emissions-free power, which is enough energy to serve approximately 1,100 homes.

“NASA is a pioneer in the use of solar power for space exploration, so it’s fitting that we’re working with FPL to expand the use and R&D of that renewable energy source at Kennedy Space Center where many of those missions were launched,” said Robert Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center. “This type of commercial partnership with NASA helps provide Florida residents, and America’s space program, with new sources of ‘green power’ that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and improve the environment.”

“Like NASA, FPL is looking beyond the horizon. FPL’s Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is an important part of our state’s clean-energy future, but large-scale solar projects like this one also have a very positive impact on the economy today,” said FPL President and CEO Armando J. Olivera. “Projects like this and our Next Generation Solar Energy Centers in Martin and DeSoto Counties give Florida the opportunity to create and attract clean-energy jobs and produce millions of dollars in new revenue for local governments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change at the same time.”

FPL’s Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 227,000 tons over the life of the project, which according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is equivalent to removing 1,800 cars from the road each year. It will also save approximately 122,000 barrels of oil and 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas over its lifetime.

“Florida is poised to be a leader in America’s growing clean-energy economy, which naturally includes solar power,” said Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, whose district includes the Kennedy Space Center. “Bringing new clean-energy jobs to our communities is one of my top priorities. This joint effort between NASA and FPL is an example of how we can create jobs while investing in common-sense solutions to the economic, environmental and national security challenges we face today.”

The facility features approximately 35,000 solar PV panels from SunPower Corp., a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, across 60 acres at Kennedy Space Center. The SunPower panels, which are the most efficient panels available on the market today, allow FPL to generate 50 percent more power at the Space Coast facility than a comparably sized project using conventional solar panels.

SunPower designed and built the 10-megawatt system and a separate one-megawatt solar power system at Kennedy Space Center, as well as FPL’s 25-megawatt DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County, the largest operating solar PV power plant in the U.S. SunPower intends to locate a research and development center employing up to 50 employees in Florida if the state government continues to support the deployment of additional large-scale solar energy projects.

“We congratulate FPL for its global leadership in the development of solar technologies, and for making solar energy a key part of the nation’s economic recovery and the protection of the environment for future generations,” said Howard Wenger, president, utility and power plants for SunPower. “Solar power systems can be built quickly anywhere and at any scale, and we are pleased to partner with NASA and FPL on these important projects.”

FPL’s Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is the second large-scale solar facility that FPL has completed in Florida. The first, FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, the country’s largest solar PV facility at 25 megawatts, was commissioned in October 2009 by President Barack Obama. Later this year, FPL plans to open the world’s first hybrid solar thermal facility to connect to an existing fossil fuel plant, FPL’s Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Indiantown, Florida. It will be the largest of FPL’s solar facilities at 75 megawatts. In total, FPL’s three solar projects combined are creating more than 1,500 direct jobs and more than 5,000 total jobs for the state during the construction period.

Florida Power & Light Company is the largest electric utility in Florida and one of the largest rate-regulated utilities in the United States. FPL serves approximately 4.5 million customer accounts in Florida and is a leading employer in the state with 10,500 employees. The company consistently outperforms national averages for service reliability while customer bills are below the national average. A clean energy leader, FPL has one of the lowest emissions profiles and the No. 1 energy efficiency program among utilities nationwide.

Read Large-Scale Solar Power Systems: Construction and Economics from Amazon.

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