Florida—“The Sunshine State”—would seem like the perfect venue for a solar power plant. Florida Power & Light Company, along with government officials like Governor Rick Scottt and State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, have officially opened the world’s first hybrid natural gas solar power plant.
Florida Power & Light Company’s Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center covers 500 acres in western Martin County, Florida. The facility combines the energy producing capabilities of an already existing combined-cycle natural gas power plant with 190,000 solar thermal mirrors that track the sun throughout the course of the day to harness heat energy that is converted to electrical energy.
The hybrid natural gas solar power plant has created more than 1,000 jobs to boost the Florida economy since the project’s inception just two years ago. Over 150 Florida-based businesses have been involved in the hybrid power plant’s construction, lending to even more employment opportunities having been created and maintained indirectly.
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Florida Power & Light Company’s Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center is a 75MW facility that is capable of powering approximately 11,000 homes. The hybrid natural gas solar power plant will reduce fossil fuel consumption by 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas and over 600,000 barrels of oil, preventing 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The facility will also reduce fuel costs by an estimated $178 million over the estimated 30-year lifetime of the facility.
"From job creation to cleaner air to energy security, this project demonstrates the many benefits of investing in large-scale renewable energy, especially in Florida," said FPL President and CEO Armando J. Olivera. "Leadership by the Florida Legislature in 2008 made this project and its myriad benefits possible. We're hopeful that today's leaders will take action to enable more cost-effective investments like this so we can continue taking dramatic steps forward to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and get more Floridians back to work quickly."
While the majority of solar thermal power plants are in fact hybrids—usually burning oil at night and during low-sunlight periods—the Florida facility is the first to retrofit an existing natural gas power plant with solar thermal capabilities.