A recent report from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy found that the Sunshine State is set to surpass North Carolina as a regional leader in solar energy capacity by 2022.
This is good news for Florida’s environment.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in just one hour, the amount of energy from the sun that strikes the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in one year. Unlike energy produced by fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, solar energy systems do not produce air pollutants or carbon dioxide and have minimal effects on the environment.
But, it’s also good for the economy. Since 2011, the price of solar has dropped by 50% and renewable energy jobs are on the rise nationally. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a solar panel installer is the fastest growing job in eight states, including Florida.
2019 has been full of promising news for the solar energy industry:
- Florida Power and Light, a utility company that provides electricity to about half of all Floridians, announced its “30-by-30″ plan to install more than 30 million solar panels by the year 2030. To put that into perspective, 30 million solar panels laid end to end would “wrap around the Earth one and a half times,” read the FPL news release. St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Volusia and Columbia counties will be the homes of FPL’s new solar plants.
- Tampa Electric, Orlando Utilities Commission, Jacksonville Utility Service and Duke Energy are also set to increase their solar capacity over the next four years.
- The Tallahassee City Council passed a resolution to use 100% renewable energy by the year 2050, making it the 7th city in Florida to set such a goal. Across the U.S., 104 cities have made such pledges.
- The Florida A & M University Board of Trustees approved a partnership with Duke Energy to build a new solar facility in central Florida.
Resarchers at the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering are working to make solar power more affordable, while ensuring the power grids are safer and easier to maintain.
Joel Harley, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UF, is working with scientists at The University of Utah and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop and commercialize a new sensor that would quickly detect a problem and its location on a large solar grid. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the costs of solar energy by the end of the decade.
Read more in our post: UF Researchers Developing Sensor to Improve Efficiency of Solar Power Grids