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Florida Power and Light Company Given Go Ahead For Solar Power Facilities

On the 15 July, the Florida Public Services Commission granted FPL permission to begin work on three major Solar Power plants across the state.

The first of these projects is 'The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center', scheduled for construction at the company's already existent 'Martin Plant' site. It is expected to be operational in 2010, and will produce a maximum 75W output. It will combine steam with solar thermal power in order to reduce the amount of natural gas used in the energy conversion process.

Second is 'The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center' which is due for completion and operation in 2009. It is named after the county in which it's being developed, and boasts a 25MW photovoltaic maximum capacity. This figure, when reached, would make it the largest photovoltaic center in the world.

The final project in the trio is 'The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center', and is the product of a partnership between NASA and the FPL. It has a photovoltaic capacity of 10MW, and will reportedly serve the needs of more than 2500 people. It is expected to be operational in 2009, and is to be built on the same grounds as the 'Kennedy Space Center'.

With the green light now given, it signifies another step towards a greater and more proficient level of sustainable energy in the US. FPL reports that - pending the successful completion of the three plants - the energy saved would amount to the prevention of 3.5m tons of various green house gases over the three power plant's lifetimes. The Environmental Protection Agency calculate that this has the same effect as 25,000 cars being removed from the roads of the United States each year.

Along with 'Solar Tres' the European Union commissioned large scale Solar Thermal Power plant, the Florida plants contribute to a Trans-Atlantic development of sustainable energy sites. Add 'Nevada Solar One' - the replacement for 'Solar One' and 'Two', on which 'Solar Tres' was based - and the number of substantially funded solar powered facilities is growing.

And it is not just Europe and North America that has been affected: The Japanese Companies 'Kansai Electrical Power' and 'Sharp Japan' announced plans in June for two solar power plants to be built under the 'Sakai City Waterfront Mega Solar Power Generation Plan', and are expected to be operational in 2010. The two sites are reported to have a combined maximum power of 38,000KW, and will therefore become two of the largest solar powered sites in the world.

Three of the world's biggest political players, then, are continuing their commitment to sustainable energy sources. Include 'Kigali Solaire', the largest solar power plant in Africa - opened in Rwanda in 2007 - plus a maximum capacity 400KW photovoltaic array in New South Wales, Austrialia, and it amounts to sustainable energy in four of the six world continents. Place on the tally the plans for a 'solar trough' - one long set of parabolic solar panels - in Mexico, which would amount to a maximum 400MW output for the city Agua Prieta, and that makes five continents in six.

Perhaps, then, the FPL centers are simply bucking the trend.

Submitted by:

Mark Smalls

Chris Wright is the Solar Power expert at EcoSwitch.com The environmental social network.




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