FPL Announces Plan to Install More than 30 Million Solar Panels by 2030

  • Jan 16, 2019
  • T&D World

Florida Power & Light Co. has announced a groundbreaking "30-by-30" plan to install more than 30 million solar panels by 2030.

FPL has secured solar sites throughout the state, which will enable the company to continue to cost-effectively build solar energy centers across Florida. This bold plan will capture economies of scale and promote the construction of efficient and cost-effective solar generation. The end result will be the largest installation of solar panels by a regulated utility in the world and a 67% fleet-wide reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rate by 2030 as compared to the national average.

When this plan is completed, FPL expects to be the largest utility owner and operator of solar in America. Having advanced clean energy affordably for many years, including embarking upon one of the largest solar expansions in the country over the past two years, FPL also will be making unprecedented investments in advanced and innovative battery storage technology that will extend the use of clean, affordable solar energy even after the sun has gone down..

FPL already has begun pairing battery storage technology at its solar power plants. Future technology is planned to increase the capacity and cost-effectiveness of batteries, making them a vital part of FPL's future. As a result, the company projects to deploy a significant amount of battery storage throughout Florida by 2030.

FPL's planned renewable energy generation and storage, combined with its nuclear power plants in St. Lucie and Miami-Dade counties, is projected to generate more than 40% of its electricity emissions-free by 2030, even as the state's population – the third highest in the nation – continues to grow. In fact, the company's 2030 CO2 emissions rate target represents a 67% reduction vs. the 2005 U.S. electric industry average.

By far the state's largest producer of solar energy, FPL has studied solar technology for decades and, today, operates 18 large solar power plants and hundreds of other universal solar installations across Florida. In 1984, FPL commissioned its first universal solar installation, a 10-kWh photovoltaic facility in Miami that helped the company's employees gain experience with the then-emerging technology. Over the years, FPL has continued to test and operate a wide variety of solar technologies. In 2009, FPL became the first company to build large universal scale solar projects in Florida and, in 2016, was the first to leverage its purchasing power to build three 74.5-MW solar power plants, which are producing net savings for FPL customers.

Continuing to invest in emerging and innovative technologies for Florida

For several years, FPL and its sister companies have researched battery storage technology to study a variety of potential benefits, from grid stabilization to improved solar integration. In 2018, FPL unveiled the largest combined operating solar and storage power plant at Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County, uniquely advantageous because of the ability to harness extra energy produced at solar power plants when the sun's rays are strongest. The additional solar energy and the increased predictability afforded by battery storage can enable FPL to more efficiently dispatch other power plants, helping save customers on fuel costs while reducing emissions.

Optimizing nuclear power plants to generate even more 24/7, emissions-free energy

FPL's four nuclear units in St. Lucie and Miami-Dade counties have long generated zero-emissions energy 24/7 for customers and are essential to preserve clean air and address climate change. In recent years, FPL has invested more than $3 billion to upgrade its Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear units, adding more than 500 megawatts of new carbon-free capacity, which is the equivalent of adding more than two million solar panels.

Modernizing power plant fleet and shutting down coal

FPL plans to continue increasing the fuel efficiency of its highly efficient fleet of natural gas power plants. Since 2001, the company's program to phase out older, oil-fired power plants and replace them with highly efficient clean energy centers has reduced the company's reliance on foreign oil more than 99 percent, saved FPL customers more than $9.5 billion in fuel costs and prevented 120 million tons of carbon emissions from being produced. The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center – which will run on U.S.-produced natural gas – is set to be the cleanest, most fuel-efficient power plant of its kind in the world when it comes online later this year, only to be topped in efficiency by the FPL Dania Beach Clean Energy Center when it begins generating electricity in 2022.

FPL is also poised to eliminate its only remaining coal plant in Florida by the end of this year. The company shut down two coal plants in Jacksonville in 2016 and 2018, respectively, collectively preventing nearly seven million tons of carbon emissions annually.

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