Florida Power & Light plans to eliminate carbon emissions from electricity production by 2045 by expanding solar energy and other technologies, company officials said recently.
The plan, part of a broader decarbonisation effort outlined by FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy, will lead to a massive increase in the use of solar panels and battery storage technology. It would also mean switching to so-called “green hydrogen” in power plants and continuing to use nuclear energy.
Speaking at an investor conference, FPL Chairman and CEO Eric Silaghi described the plan as a “march”, but said it would be based on changes that include the FPL, ending the use of coal at state plants.
“Being clean is good business,” Silagi said. “Fuel efficiency is really good business and good for customers.”
The plan, although phased in over more than two decades, would be a huge change in the way the FPL does business. In 2021, natural gas accounts for 67% of what is known as the FPL’s “fuel mix” for production. Nuclear energy was the next highest at 20%, while solar energy was 4%, according to information presented at an investor conference.
In 2045, a combination of solar energy, batteries and green hydrogen will account for 83% of the company’s production.
The FPL, by far the largest utility company in the state, and other utilities have been moving steadily in recent years to add solar energy. These moves came as solar energy became more cost-effective, battery storage evolved and the pressure of climate change increased to reduce carbon emissions.
But natural gas combustion continues to dominate the state’s power generation, a dominance that has hit customers over the past year as monthly bills rise due to higher natural gas prices.
According to the plan, solar production will move from the current 4,000 megawatts to more than 90,000 megawatts in 2045, according to the FPL. Similarly, the battery, which is needed to store solar energy for periods when the sun is not shining, will be expanded from the current 500 megawatts to more than 50,000 megawatts.
In addition, the FPL said it would convert some natural gas plants to run on green hydrogen, a fuel produced by the process of separating water into hydrogen and oxygen, according to NextEra. Florida lawmakers this spring passed a sales tax exemption for things like equipment needed to produce green hydrogen, a measure sought by the FPL.
Silagi said the FPL is building a $ 65 million green hydrogen pilot project, which is expected to be operational next year.
In a press release, FPL said it intends to implement the plan “with zero additional costs for its customers compared to alternatives”, saying it would not cost more than what customers would otherwise pay.
The FPL plan is part of what NextEra called its efforts to decarbonise Real Zero. NextEra, based in Juneau Beach, operates in many states.
“We have worked hard to develop Real Zero to ensure that we have a solid technical path to achieve our goals and well-defined milestones every five years so that we and all stakeholders can track our progress,” he said. NextEra CEO John Ketchum in a prepared statement. “We are part of an industry that is well positioned to make the most progress in eliminating carbon emissions, and Real Zero’s goal is for NextEra Energy to set a new standard for all power generators.”
Jim Saunders reports on the Florida News Service.