FPL, NASA celebrate new solar array at Kennedy Space Center
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At Kennedy Space Center today, Sen. Bill Nelson and Reps. Suzanne Kosmas and Bill Posey joined officials from Florida Power & Light Company and NASA to celebrate the groundbreaking of FPL’s Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center.
The new solar photovoltaic power facility is the result of a unique public-private partnership between FPL and NASA and demonstrates both organizations’ commitment to bringing clean-energy solutions to the state.
“The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is an important part of Florida’s clean-energy future. I grew up in Florida, seeing NASA as the home of historic American achievements, so I love the idea of FPL helping to power the space program,” said FPL President and CEO Armando J. Olivera. “Like NASA, FPL is looking beyond the horizon. We are building more emissions-free solar power with the quality of life of our children and grandchildren in mind.”
“The partnership between NASA and FPL is an excellent one that comes at the right time,” said Robert Cabana, director of Kennedy Space Center. “It will help provide clean, renewable power to Florida residents, it will help support America’s space program by supplying electricity directly to Kennedy Space Center, and it helps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and improves the environment.”
The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center will be located on NASA property at Kennedy Space Center and, when completed, will produce an estimated 10 megawatts of clean, emissions-free power for FPL customers, which is enough energy to serve roughly 1,100 homes.
FPL is also building a separate solar facility of approximately one megawatt that will provide clean power directly to Kennedy Space Center, helping NASA meet its renewable energy goals.
“There’s no better time than right now to start using the sun and other clean sources to power America,” said Nelson. “And, perhaps, there’s no better agency to help lead the way than NASA. Let’s hope power companies all over the country take a cue from this partnership.”
“Florida is poised to be a leader in America’s growing clean energy economy, which naturally includes solar power,” said Kosmas. “Bringing new clean energy jobs to our communities is one of my top priorities. This joint effort between NASA and FPL is an example of how we can create jobs while investing in common-sense solutions to the economic, environmental and national security challenges we face today.”
“As a member of the Congressional Renewable Energy Caucus, I have a strong commitment to renewable energy and am pleased to see this project going forward right here on the Space Coast,” said Posey. “This is an important step in the development of future sources of renewable energy and is one way we can reverse our dependence on foreign oil.”
The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 227,000 tons, which is the equivalent of removing 1,800 cars off the road each year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It will also save approximately 122,000 barrels of oil and 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas over its lifetime.
Additionally, the solar array will provide about 100 jobs during construction, helping to boost the local economy in Brevard County. FPL expects to complete the project by the middle of next year at the latest.
The facility will feature approximately 35,000 highly efficient solar photovoltaic panels from SunPower, a global leader in commercial-scale solar power technology, across 60 acres at Kennedy Space Center. The panels are 50 percent more powerful than conventional solar panels. Last month, SunPower and FPL Group announced a supply agreement beginning in 2010 through 2012. SunPower has also committed to locating a research and development center in Florida if the state continues its robust solar program.
The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is one of three solar facilities that FPL is currently building in the state of Florida, totaling 110 megawatts of clean, renewable energy generation. The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Indiantown will be the world’s first hybrid solar thermal facility to connect to an existing fossil fuel plant. It is the largest of the three at 75 megawatts and is scheduled to be complete in 2010. FPL’s contractor on the project, Lauren Construction & Engineers, is currently hiring about 1,000 workers to complete the work.
FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, a 25-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility in Arcadia, will be the nation’s largest photovoltaic array when it is complete later this year. The project has brought more than 200 construction jobs to DeSoto County.
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