Florida Power & Light launches a plan to eliminate carbon emissions

Florida Power & Light plans to eliminate carbon emissions from its electricity generation by 2045 through the expansion of solar energy and other technologies, company officials recently announced.

The plan, part of a broader decarbonization effort outlined by FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy, would lead to massive increases in the use of solar panels and battery storage technology. Furthermore, it would mean switching to what is known as “green hydrogen” in power plants and continuing to use nuclear energy.

FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy, speaking at an investor conference, described the plan as a “march,” but said it will build on changes that included FPL ending the use of coal in its plants. state.

“Being clean is good business,” said Silagy. “Being fuel efficient is really good business and good for customers.”

The plan, although phased in over two decades, would represent a huge shift in the way FPL does business. In 2021, natural gas made up 67% of what is known as FPL’s “fuel mix” for generation. Nuclear was the second highest with 20%, while solar was 4%, according to information presented at the investor conference.

In 2045, a combination of solar, battery storage and green hydrogen would account for 83% of the utility’s production.

FPL, by far the largest utility in the state, and other utilities have been moving steadily over the past few years to add solar power. These moves came as solar became cheaper, battery storage developed, and pressures on climate change increased to reduce carbon emissions.

But natural gas combustion continues to dominate electricity generation in the state, a dominance that has hit customers over the past year as they have seen monthly bills rise due to higher natural gas prices.

Under the plan, solar generation would go from the current 4,000 megawatts to over 90,000 megawatts in 2045, according to FPL. Likewise, the storage battery, needed to store solar energy for periods when the sun is not shining, would expand from the current 500 megawatts to over 50,000 megawatts.

Additionally, FPL said it will convert some natural gas plants to run on green hydrogen, a fuel obtained through a process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, according to NextEra. Florida lawmakers this spring approved a sales tax exemption for things like equipment needed to produce green hydrogen, a measure requested by FPL.

Silagy said FPL is building a $ 65 million green hydrogen pilot project that is expected to go live next year.

In a press release, FPL said it intends to carry out the plan “at zero incremental cost to its customers, compared to the alternatives,” indicating that it would cost no more than what customers would otherwise pay.

The FPL plan is part of what NextEra has dubbed its Real Zero decarbonization effort. NextEra, based in Juno Beach, operates in multiple states.

“We have worked hard in the development of Real Zero to ensure we have a credible technical path to achieving our clearly defined goals and milestones every five years so that we and all stakeholders can track our progress,” said John Ketchum. President and CEO of NextEra prepared speech. “We are part of an industry that is well positioned to make the most progress in eliminating carbon emissions and Real Zero is NextEra Energy’s goal to set a new standard for all power generators.”

Jim Saunders reports for the Florida News Service.

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