The state of Florida has yet to realize its potential for generating solar power, but that will not be the case for much longer.
While the state’s two largest utilities, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light, have obviously favored natural gas instead of investing in solar power, there’s some changes on the horizon. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects that Florida’s use of solar power may climb to as high as 30 percent (or possibly more) over the next 10 year period. Currently, the state gets less than 1 percent of its electricity from solar.
This upcoming massive solar power adoption will only happen for one reason, unfortunately. The reason is that the cost of solar will be comparatively cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives. Yes, it’s fair to say that the powers that be would have kept using fossil fuels exclusively had solar remain more expensive.
Florida’s major utilities plan on installing many thousands of megawatts of solar capacity in the coming years. However, they both still have plans to construct more gas-fired plants which will account for more electricity generation than their solar projects.
The NREL also confronts the fact that solar, by itself, is not a complete solution. Along with massive utility scale investments in solar power expansion, adequate energy storage solutions must be part of the picture as well. Large battery systems can be deployed at both utility substations and generating stations. Much like solar panel systems, energy storage systems are very distributable. Utility scale battery pricing will continue to fall in the coming years, making the combination of solar plus storage economically viable.
Although the large power utilities are not quite “all-in” with solar power, there’s hope coming from others. Smaller utilities in Florida, many businesses, non-profits, and many homeowners have or are looking to go solar real soon. This is mainly possible due to the fact that solar power can be generated at all scales. This is the power of solar, we do not have to wait for utilities to get their acts together.
Residents of any state, like Florida, that frequently deal with power outages due to natural disasters can also stand to benefit from battery backed-up solar power. So not only does solar now help people save money compared to conventional energy, it can also provide for piece of mind (in the form of electricity) during power outages.
It will be just a matter of time before solar power is fully embraced in Florida. It has plenty of sunshine, space, and people that would like to finally take advantage of this abundant resource.
The Sunshine State will start to become the Solar Power State real soon!