FPL is retrofitting a solar array with a 409-MW capacity battery system

Florida Power & Light announced a plan to build the world’s largest solar-powered battery system — four times the capacity of the largest battery system in operation — as part of an innovative modernization plan that will accelerate the retirement of two fossil fuel generation units.

The future FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will have 409 MW of capacity when it begins serving customers in late 2021 and will be charged by an existing FPL solar power plant in Manatee County. By deploying energy from the batteries when there is a higher demand for electricity, FPL will offset the need to run other power plants, further reducing emissions and saving customers money through avoided fuel costs. The FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will cover a 40-acre parcel of land.

“This is a monumental milestone in realizing the full benefits of solar power and yet another example of how FPL is working hard to position Florida as the global gold standard for clean energy,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Even as we aggressively execute on our plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030, we never lose sight of finding innovative ways to bring our customers the benefits of solar energy, even when the sun’s not shining. Replacing a large, aging fossil fuel plant with a mega battery that’s adjacent to a large solar plant is another world-first accomplishment and while I’m very pleased of that fact, what I’m most proud of is that our team remained committed to developing this clean energy breakthrough while saving customers money and keeping their bills among the lowest in the nation.”

The FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center is part of an innovative modernization plan to accelerate the retirement of two, 1970s-era natural gas-generating units at FPL’s neighboring power plant, and replace them with clean and renewable energy. In addition to the energy storage system in Manatee County, FPL is planning smaller battery installations across the state, numerous solar power plants and efficiency upgrades to existing combustion turbines at other power plants to replace the 1,638 MW of generating capacity. The project will save customers more than $100 million and eliminate more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“FPL is pioneering a clean energy revolution for our state that’s come full circle for our community,” said Stephen Jonsson, chairman of the board of county commissioners in Manatee County. “It seems like just yesterday that FPL kicked off its massive solar expansion in 2016 by opening a solar power plant in Parrish. Fast forward a few years, and our hometown solar power plant is on the verge of powering the world’s largest solar-powered battery system. This modernization plan is truly an incredible feat and consistent with our commitment as leaders to keep sustainability at the forefront of every project that takes place in Manatee County. It’s why we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with FPL to help do our part to shape Florida’s clean energy future.”

Modernizing power generation

For nearly two decades, FPL has methodically modernized its power generation fleet. As part of the modernization program, the utility has historically replaced old, oil-burning plants with energy centers that run on U.S.-produced natural gas. Now, as the price of the battery and solar technology continues to decline and FPL has learned how to optimize the technology to best serve customers, the company is tearing down two aging natural gas units that have dotted the Parrish skyline for nearly 50 years.

“The way we generate, store, transport and use electricity is being reinvented. New technology, like large-scale battery storage, is a critical step on the path to a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy future. Achieving this outcome is critical to the well-being of our economy, our communities and our planet,” said Temperince Morgan, executive director of the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

FPL also remains poised to eliminate its only remaining coal plant in Florida by the end of this year. The company also shut down two coal plants in Jacksonville in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

FPL’s investments in battery storage technology directly complement the company’s expansion of solar energy, with 18 solar power plants currently in operation and four more entering construction.

News item from Florida Power & Light Company

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