In the Sunshine State, the sun still sets every evening. Supplying citizens with sun-generated power after dark is the job of batteries. Last week, Florida Power & Light (FPL) unveiled the world's biggest solar battery, in Manatee County. The solar site generates enough power for 15,000 homes.

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Located alongside an inverter at the 40-acre Manatee Solar Energy Center in Parrish, the battery array was part of the energy company's initiative "to replace two aging natural gas power generating units with clean and renewable energy," said FPL. "The project will also eliminate more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions."

Its capacity of 409 megawatts and 900 megawatt-hours of electricity earns the Manatee battery the title of world's largest. FPL has spent years researching energy storage technology, and in 2018 it opened the then-largest solar energy center in Charlotte County.

Interesting tidbits:

  • The center is equivalent to 30 football fields.
  • The battery has the juice of 100 million iPhone batteries.
  • The 900 MWh output could power 329,000 homes for two hours.
  • Or Walt Disney World for seven hours!

By the end of the decade, FPL forecasts that nearly 40% of the company’s power will be generated by zero-emissions sources, a feat that's even more impressive when you consider that FPL is the largest power company in America as measured by retail electricity produced and sold.

Manatee Solar Energy Center; photo courtesy of FPL

Manatee Solar Energy Center

Batteries Can Provide a "Green Loop"

The way a homeowner can run on fresh solar energy during the day and draw from battery storage overnight is known in the solar game as the green loop. Around the clock, power requirements are met by solar energy, whether it is freshly generated or pulled out of a battery. Now and then, grid power might be taken in, but overall, the home's energy demands are satisfied by its own supply.

The green loop can be either necessary or expensive depending on where a person lives. Where energy rates are high, such as Alaska and Hawaii, generating one's own power saves money. Even though an energy storage system costs money, over time it pays for itself compared to buying expensive power from the grid. Also, if you live where the grid is absent or unreliable, battery backup can stabilize your quality of life and is well worth the cost.

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On the other hand, no battery system today lets you store and reuse the energy for less than $0.40 per kilowatt-hour. That's an appealing price in Hawaii and Alaska, where city power is dear, but everyone else can buy energy where they live for $0.13 to $0.30. But battery technology advances every day—and energy rates keep rising. It is reasonable to predict a time soon when solar-tied energy storage systems reach price parity with grid power.

Saving the Planet, Saving Customers Money

Utility-scale batteries like the world record holder in Manatee County not only help the environment but save customers money. Because the plant can supply power in the dark and on cloudy days, FPL will not need to run legacy powerplants to meet that demand and customers won't be charged for fossil fuels.

“It’s been a momentous year for clean energy in Florida," said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. "FPL opened the year by formally shutting down its last coal-fired plant in the state, and now we’re closing the year by shattering a world record and commissioning the largest solar-powered battery in the world."

FPL set itself an admirable goal it calls "30-by-30": To install 30 million solar panels across Florida by 2030. With the Manatee Solar Energy Center, the company has achieved 45% of that goal.

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You can join the trend toward clean energy and slash your power bill in the process by exploring solar energy options for your home. Connect with a high-rated local installer today and see how much you can save.

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