Florida Power & Light aims to install more solar panels than any regulated utility
- Florida Power & Light yesterday unveiled a solar energy campaign it dubbed "30-by-30," calling for the installation of 30 million photovoltaic panels by 2030, with an aim of reducing carbon emissions by 67% over that period.
- The utility did not release a capacity goal for its rollout, but some solar experts have estimated it will mean total installations of 8 GW to 10 GW or more. FPL says its plan would be the "largest installation of solar panels by a regulated utility in the world."
- By 2030, the utility says a combination of renewable generation, energy storage and nuclear power, will supply more than 40% of its electricity. FPL has been working to clean up its energy mix, and plans to shutter its lone remaining coal plant later this year.
Despite being the largest electric utility in the Sunshine State, FPL has at times faced criticisms for an energy supply that relied heavily on fossil fuels. The utility is looking to change that, and yesterday said when its plan is completed, it "expects to be the largest utility owner and operator of solar in America."
PV Magazine estimates the FPL plan calls for deploying about 10 GW, or 1 GW/year of solar capacity, which the publication said would be "unprecedented." The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) pegs the rollout at around 8 GW total — a doubling of the utility's current 4 GW goal, though the group's reaction was less optimistic about FPL's announcement.
"While this is a positive jump in solar development, it's important to note this will not make FPL a leader in solar watts per customer based on their size in the Southeast or the country," SACE Executive Director Stephen Smith said in a statement.
"As with any announcement, the devil is in the details. ... we continue to support good policies and actions that maximize Florida's tremendous solar resource potential," Smith added.
The utility said its plan also calls for "making unprecedented investments" in battery storage technology to enable greater integration of solar energy. FPL said it has already begun pairing battery storage technology at its solar power plants, and "the company projects to deploy a significant amount of battery storage throughout Florida by 2030."
Despite its cleaner vision, FPL is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.
The gas-fired Okeechobee Clean Energy Center is set to come online later this year, and the Dania Beach gas plant is expected to begin generating electricity in 2022. But the utility said it is poised to eliminate its only remaining coal plant in Florida. The company shut down two coal plants in Jacksonville in 2016 and 2018, and since 2001, FPL has phased out oil-fired generation.
The utility also has four nuclear units in St. Lucie and Miami-Dade counties and FPL said it recently invested more than $3 billion to upgrade its Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear units, adding more than 500 MW.
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