Within Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) recently-filed four-year rate request with the Florida Public Service Commission is a commitment to “investments to build a more sustainable energy future.”
The pledge in the regulatory filing includes the utility’s “30-by-30” plan to install 30 million solar panels in Florida by 2030, as well as plans to build what the utility said would be the world’s largest integrated solar-powered battery and a green hydrogen pilot project.
The battery system is the Manatee Energy Storage Center, a 409 MW behemoth that could begin serving customers in late 2021. FPL’s Gulf Power unit said on Feb. 25 that it had begun construction on the project. The project is expected to help speed the retirement of aging natural gas units at a nearby power plant.
The green hydrogen pilot project was first announced by NextEra Energy, FPL’s parent company, in July 2020.
NextEra plans to invest $65 million into the pilot, which will use power from otherwise curtailed solar energy to produce green hydrogen via a 20 MW electrolysis system.
It’s worth noting that NextEra ranks as one of the nation’s largest solar and wind developers. So, although a 20 MW pilot may not initially move the needle toot much, NextEra’s vast wind and solar also comes with a lot of curtailed renewable generation. If the pilot proves successful and scalable, the company could look toward a serious buildout of more hydrogen producing facilities that could replace fossil fuels.
For now, the green hydrogen produced as part of the pilot would replace some of the natural gas combusted at FPL’s 1.75 GW Okeechobee power plant. Rather than build a new hydrogen plant, FPL is retrofitting an existing plant to accommodate the fuel source.
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