FPL to Build Largest Solar-Powered Battery

The 409-megawatt facility is estimated to begin commercial operation in late 2021 and will be charged by an existing FPL solar power plant.
Image via Pixabay

Florida Power & Light Co. will build the world’s largest solar-powered battery system as part of a plan that will accelerate the retirement of two fossil fuel generation units. The facility, dubbed Manatee Energy Storage Center, will be located south of Tampa in Manatee County.

The FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will spread across 40 acres and will have a capacity of 409 megawatts, which is the equivalent of approximately 100 million iPhone batteries or 300 million AA batteries. This translates into 900 megawatt hours of electricity the center will be able to distribute to customers, the equivalent of powering 329,000 households for two hours. It is anticipated to start serving customers in late 2021 and will be charged by an existing FPL solar power plant in Manatee County.

The main benefit of energy storage centers is that the operator will be able to deploy energy from the batteries when there is higher demand for electricity, offsetting the need to run other power plants thus further reducing emissions and saving customers money through avoided fuel costs. The Manatee project is estimated to save customers more than $100 million and eliminate more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The bigger picture

The energy storage project is part of a larger plan to accelerate the retirement of two, 1970s-era natural gas generating units at FPL’s neighboring power plant that have been functioning in Parrish for nearly 50 years and replace them with clean energy. In addition to this project, FPL plans to install smaller battery systems across the state, solar power plants and efficiency upgrades to existing combustion turbines at other power plants to replace the 1,638 megawatts of generating capacity. Furthermore, FPL is set on eliminating the only remaining coal plant in Florida by the end of the year. In 2016 and 2018 the company shut down two coal plants in Jacksonville, collectively preventing nearly 7 million town of carbon dioxide emissions yearly.

For the past two decades, FPL has been modernizing its power generation fleet, turning it into one of the cleanest and most efficient in the country, saving customers almost $10 billion, while eliminating more than 130 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions since 2001. Going forward, the energy provider plans to maintain its green spirit: In January, FPL announced its “30-by-30” plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030, which will propel Florida to the global leading position in solar energy production.  

“Even as we aggressively execute on our plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030, we never lose sight of finding innovative ways to bring our customers the benefits of solar energy, even when the sun’s not shining. Replacing a large, aging fossil fuel plant with a mega battery that’s adjacent to a large solar plant is another world-first accomplishment,” Eric Silagy, president & CEO of FPL, said in prepared remarks.

“The way we generate, store, transport and use electricity is being reinvented. New technology, like large-scale battery storage, is a critical step on the path to a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy future. Achieving this outcome is critical to the well-being of our economy, our communities and our planet,” added Temperince Morgan, executive director of the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.