Construction starts on 450 MW-DC of Florida solar

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Today utility Florida Power and Light (FPL) announced the beginning of construction on four new solar projects spread across the state of Florida, which will total around 450 MW-DC of capacity when complete. Black and Veatch is building these projects as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, and expects to have the plants put online some time in 2019.

• FPL Interstate Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County
• FPL Miami-Dade Solar Energy Center, Miami-Dade County
• FPL Pioneer Trail Solar Energy Center, Volusia County
• FPL Sunshine Gateway Solar Energy Center, Columbia County

These follow four other projects of similar capacities which Blattner began work on last year.

The four new projects will each be around 112 MW-DC in capacity, and mounted on fixed-tilt racking, which FPL says offers a cost advantage. The utility notes that for projects of this size a variety of module suppliers are used, however Jinko Solar will supply at least some of the modules used, including some from its new Jacksonville PV module factory which is currently under construction.

Jinko Solar signed the world’s largest PV module supply agreement with FPL parent company NextEra in March, at 2.75 GW.

The plants will have a 1.5 DC-to-AC ratio, giving each one a 74.5 MW-AC rating. The company has not mentioned any plans to integrate battery storage at this time, but notes that it owns the nation’s largest solar-plus-storage project, and cites the benefits of solar and storage for improving the economics and operational flexibility of these projects.

This has also been cited by NextEra, which in its latest quarterly results call estimated that the including energy storage is adding an average of only 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to the solar and wind projects which it is building.

FPL currently owns or is buying power from 14 utility-scale solar projects. When this 298 MW-AC of solar is complete the utility will be at 1.233 GW-AC of installed solar capacity, and the utility expects solar to make up nearly 5% of its electricity generation by 2020. This is part of a boom of solar in Florida, which is currently the second-largest state solar market after California.

The company is doing this while reducing its already low customer rates. FPL notes that these projects are all being built at no net cost to its customers, and company spokesman Stephen Heiman estimates that FPL customers will save $40 million over the life of the projects.