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Published on December 2nd, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst


Construction of Florida's Largest Solar Plant Begins

December 2nd, 2008 by  

Florida Power and Light\'s Martin Solar Thermal Plant

[social_buttons]Florida Power & Light, the state’s biggest utility, broke ground today on what it says will be the first utility-scale solar investment in the state — and the first hybrid solar facility in the world to combine a solar-thermal field with a combined-cycle natural gas power plant.

Consisting of 180,000 mirrors spread out over 500 acres, FPL’s 75-megawatt Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center is situated on the Atlantic coast just north of Palm Beach County.FPL’s new facility is The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will use less fossil fuel when heat from the sun is available to help produce the steam needed to generate electricity. It also matches solar power with an existing combined-cycle natural gas plant, so that when the sun is not shining, the natural gas can take over the work of powering the turbines.

Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist, a big advocate of renewable energy and environmental protection, lauded the ground-breaking.

“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 Gov. Crist. “This solar facility is a significant step in that direction.”

The plant is the first of three FPL solar facilities state regulators have approved in Florida, which, according to the utility, will make the state the second-largest solar energy producer in the country. In addition to the Martin facility, FPL will also build two other solar projects in Florida – one at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the other in Desoto County. These facilities will add 35 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity to the state. Combined, these projects help strengthen FPL Group’s position as the nation’s clean energy leader.

The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will provide enough power to serve about 11,000 homes. Over 30 years, the solar facility will prevent the emissions of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases.

Image: © Florida Power and Light 

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.

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