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Sunday, 11 September 2011 02:02

Clean Energy News from Florida

Written by  Jeremy Phelps

The Florida Energy Summit to Replace Farm to Fuel

Cocoa, FL – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has announced plans for the 2011 Florida Energy Summit, which will be held October 26 through October 28 in Orlando. Commissioner Putnam made the announcement during a visit to the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, where he explored the research and development of energy technologies to advance the production of biomass, hydrogen, fuel cell and solar energy.
“The Florida Energy Summit will advance the expansion of the production of renewable energy in Florida by bringing together leaders in energy development, agriculture production, government, academic research, technology and finance,” said Commissioner Putnam. “By taking a more comprehensive look at prospective energy resources, we will gain a better understanding of Florida’s energy potential to not only capture, but also capitalize on the rich resources available.”

The Florida Energy Summit, a three-day conference hosted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, will bring bright minds from across the state and around the nation to discuss the latest advancements in energy conservation and the future of renewable energy in Florida. Visit to learn more information about registration, sponsorship opportunities and hotel reservations.


"The Florida Energy Summit is the major gathering place where stakeholders can assemble each year to help advance the development of the state's renewable energy industry and conservation practices.
In October 2011, leaders from the agricultural, utility, solar, government, academic, technology, and financial communities will gather to report on their activities, consider the next steps forward, and share their progress in pursuing conservation goals and in reaching the commercial production of renewable and next generation energy in Florida."

Securing Florida's Energy Independence

Jobs in the Clean Energy Supply Chain: Securing Florida’s Energy Independence.

September 26th , 2011, at 8:00 a.m
Reitz Union on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
contact: (202) 586-9788 or by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On September 26th , 2011, at 8:00 a.m. the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will host a clean energy workshop focused on Florida, entitled "Jobs in the Clean Energy Supply Chain: Securing Florida’s Energy Independence."  We wish to extend an invitation to other members of the Florida industry. We are convening participants from a broad range of Florida’s clean energy value chain, including construction firms, manufacturers, utilities, researchers and financiers, and your participation will contribute greatly to the dialogue on the growth of Florida’s clean energy industry and its energy independence. We anticipate over 200 participants from the private sector, as well as local, state and federal government officials, including Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida's Agricultural Commissioner, and Dr. Henry Kelly, the Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy.

More information about the workshop, including the latest agenda, is available at
The workshop will be co-hosted by the Florida Energy Systems Consortium, whose Annual Summit will occur over the two days following the EERE Florida workshop. Both events will take place at the Reitz Union on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
The required registration is free and available at the above website. If you have any questions about the workshop on the 26th, please do not hesitate to contact [ ] by phone at (202) 586-9788 or by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Key Questions for Florida's Success in the Clean Energy Industry:
1.    What growth opportunities does the Florida energy market present to the wide range of existing private sector participants? What are the key drivers of job creation in Florida's clean energy value chain?
2.    What will enable Florida's electric utilities to build on their current successes in renewable energy and energy efficiency technology? What challenges confront their continued investment in Florida's energy independence?
3.    What are the cost-effective paths to a secure energy mix in Florida?
4.    How can Florida facilitate effective, low cost, long-term financial support for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that is less dependent on state and federal funding? What is the most effective means of attracting capital?
5.    How can the local, state and federal government help?
•    Explore opportunities for job creation in Florida's growing clean energy industry
•    Encourage Florida's entrepreneurs who can help move ideas from laboratories to new businesses and jobs
•    Identify cost-effective applications of renewable energy and energy efficient technology throughout Florida
•    Emphasize the value of innovation, demonstration, and commercialization of advanced technologies to Florida's economic development and energy independence
•    Promote the growth of Florida's supply chain for renewable energy & energy efficient equipment and services



Solar Power Systems Educate Students, Reduce Costs for Schools and Provide Emergency Power
COCOA, July 14, 2011 –

Nearly 100 Florida schools will be soaking up solar rays to power their buildings this fall thanks to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).
FSEC, a University of Central Florida research institute, is providing each school with a 10-kilowatt, solar photovoltaic (PV) system valued at more than $80,000. These systems allow schools to capture the sun’s rays and turn them into energy to help reduce electricity costs, and they also serve as generators during a power outage. Installation of the systems – under way now – will reduce energy costs by up to $1,500 a year and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
“Having these photovoltaic systems in plain view on the school campuses is that first step in raising awareness about this important renewable energy technology,” said Susan Schleith, FSEC project manager for the SunSmart program. “And when a student, parent or teacher asks, ‘What is that and what does it do?,’ that’s when the learning begins.”
Schools receiving the systems are from around the state and include elementary, middle and high schools as well as one college. They were selected to take part in the program based on their status as an emergency shelter, demographics, and their renewable energy education and outreach plans.
Each PV system is connected to the utility electric grid, supplements the school’s electricity during normal operations and keeps a bank of back-up batteries charged. In the event the school is being used as a shelter and there’s an electrical outage, the system powers critical items in the shelter, using the back-up batteries when the sun isn’t shining.
For classroom learning, the system also functions as a learning resource, allowing students and teachers to see how much energy their system is producing, study the relationship between the environment and the PV system and explore the basics of electricity.

More on this story at the Florida Solar Energy Center blog.

Another great story on the FSEC blog breaks down how driving an electric vehicle powered by Solar power can be less expensive than driving a gasoline powered vehicle.  Of course the cost of these cars needs to come down before anyone can afford them.  But there is hope for the near future with more and more car automakers getting in the electric vehicle game.
Photovoltaics Are Half the Cost of Gasoline!

"Well, it turns out that these electric cars run so efficiently on electricity that they are significantly less expensive to operate than an equivalent sized gasoline car. In fact, their electric efficiency is so good that even if the electricity is provided by solar photovoltaic cells, the cost will be much less than the cost of gasoline."
At $3.90 per gallon (the average price of gasoline in Florida for the week of May 9, 2011; the average U.S. price was $4.02) the annual cost to drive the typical new small car that gets 32.6 mpg for the 12,000 miles that the average car drives each year is $1,436. The new electric cars get 3 miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh). At today’s cost, electricity from a residential solar photovoltaic system costs 16.8 cents per kWh, so the 4,000 kWh it would take to drive the same 12,000 miles would cost you only $672 each year.

Compared to the gasoline-powered car, the PV-powered car saves $764 each year!  In the future, consumers will save even more since the cost of gasoline is rising. On the other hand, the cost of PV systems continues to decline.

Firm picks Florida over Georgia, North Carolina for proposed solar energy farm

A Melbourne firm planning to build a 400-megawatt complex of solar farms picked four rural counties in Florida as its anticipated location over competing areas in Georgia and North Carolina.
National Solar Power said it narrowed its choice of Florida locations to Gadsden, Hardee, Osceola and Suwannee counties. The four counties now are in the running to host the proposed $1.5 billion renewable energy project, which would operate as a complex of 20 separate, 20-megawatt solar farms.
The final decision, expected in several weeks, will depend on which counties have the best available land and incentive packages.
Once the solar farms are built, the bulk of electricity generated is expected to be sold to Progress Energy Florida and smaller area municipal and cooperative utilities.

Melbourne, Florida – National Solar Power today announced, after a deliberative, exhaustive and comprehensive search process, it has narrowed its list to four communities in Florida to become the home of the world’s largest solar farm. The announcement means Gadsden, Hardee, Osceola and Suwannee counties are in the running to host the landmark $1.5 billion renewable energy project.
“We have been impressed by all of the communities we have considered. After careful consideration, we’ve determined the Sunshine State will provide the most attractive site for our first solar project,” said National Solar Power CEO James Scrivener. “Our friends in Georgia and North Carolina were deeply interested in this project. The communities we have visited and considered in those states remain viable options for our company’s growth plans in the future.”
In June, the company announced seven communities (including the Florida counties along with Sumter and Tatnall counties in Georgia and Guilford County in North Carolina) were in the running to become home of the world’s largest solar farm.
The company established a set of criteria in selecting its community partner for the solar farm location including:
•    Finding ideal available sites with adequate supply of undeveloped land that can properly meet infrastructure needs related to the establishment of the solar facility;
•    Receiving appropriate business, government and community support;
•    Qualifying for appropriate economic development and tax incentives; and
•    Access to a qualified work force.
“All of the communities we have considered would make excellent homes for the kind of solar project we will establish,” Scrivener added. “The communities in North Carolina and Georgia are great places with excellent opportunities for success. That’s why we will keep our talks with them ongoing as we consider the future growth of our company and this exciting solar industry.”
The first phase of the project is expected to be up and running within six months of breaking ground. Hensel Phelps Construction Co., a world leader in construction that rebuilt the Pentagon after the 9-11 attacks in 2001, will design, build and operate the solar farms for National Solar Power.
By converting the natural power of the sun into electricity, National Solar Power’s planned 400-megawatt farm will be capable of providing enough renewable energy to power roughly 32,000 homes.

Orlando NPR affiliate WMFE discussed the deal on their show Intersection, along with an expert panel discussion on the state of solar energy around Florida. You can listen to discussion on the WMFE website:

I have to thank the Citizens for Clean Energy Facebook for the heads up on the WMFE link.

Last modified on Sunday, 11 September 2011 13:05
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