In this week’s Solar News Roundup, one of the country’s largest utilities makes an exciting commitment to solar, plus a case study on the transition from fossil fuels to solar energy.
FPL aims for 30 million solar panels by 2030
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has become the most recent major U.S. electric utility to make a commitment to renewables and solar, as they have announced a plan to install over 30 million individual solar panels in Florida by the year 2030. FPL has already secured the necessary sites for solar deployment across the state; by the end of the project, FPL will have completed the largest installation of solar panels by a regulated utility in the world. Additionally, they will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 67 percent compared to the national average.
“FPL is not your traditional electric company,” said president and CEO of FPL Eric Silagy. “We’re a technology company that delivers power, and we’ve long believed in making smart, forward-thinking infrastructure investments to produce tangible, long-term benefits – cleaner air, lower electric rates and reliable service – for our customers and our state.”
In addition to solar deployment, FPL has already started to pair battery storage with their solar power plants, making these new renewable energy generators more dispatchable and effective in fulfilling grid demand at any hour. Between solar installations, storage projects, and nuclear power plants, FPL projects to produce more than 40 percent of its electricity from emissions-free resources by 2030, even as Florida’s population continues its growth trend.
Massachusetts coal plant converted to a solar farm
After being shut down in 2014, the Mount Tom Station coal power plant in Holyoke, Massachusetts didn’t have much of a future. Now, thanks to community organizers and local and state governments, the Mount Tom Station is a 17,000-panel strong solar farm with 3 megawatts (MW) of battery storage as well.
The plant initially closed due to economic trends, but negative side effects of local fossil fuel usage have mobilized local advocacy groups to raise support for its transition to a clean energy center. Groups like Neighbor to Neighbor brought attention to the respiratory issues likely caused by emissions from the plant (which were significantly more common than in other Massachusetts towns) and backed the idea of moving to solar energy.
Another key part of the project was ensuring that former coal plant workers were supported with job re-training and access to savings and pensions for those retiring soon. This project highlights the potential solar energy (and other renewable power sources) have to not only transition the economy to cleaner, more sustainable energy, but to provide individual economic opportunities through job openings.