DeSoto County building nation’s largest solar facility
The town of Arcadia in DeSoto County is currently building the nation’s largest photovoltaic plant.
According to Florida Power & Light (FPL) the $173.5 million, 25 megawatt solar generating facility should be operating by the second quarter of 2010.
In February, FPL broke ground on its DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center: Florida’s first commercial solar energy facility. The facility is projected to produce an average of 42,000 MWh of electricity annually. This enough to meet the needs of over 3,000 homes or over 7,000 people; nearly 20% of DeSoto County.
Photovoltaic panels are mirror-like concave reflectors that gather heat from the sun’s rays. The heat creates steam, that then produces electricity in existing turbines. Because solar power can be generated only during the day, this project will not generate electricity during the evening.
Since solar facilities don’t burn fossil fuels, they produce no global warming causing “greenhouse gases”.
The plant is projected to prevent more than 575,000 tons of green house gases from entering the atmosphere. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this is equal to avoiding the emissions of more than 4,500 cars per year.
The generated electricity is projected to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 7 million MMBtu of natural gas, 266,000 barrels of residual oil, and 11,000 barrels of distillate oil over the life of the facility.
Additionally, FPL has proposed a solar thermal facility at an existing plant at 19050 S.R. 62, just outside Parrish.