Solar And Natural Gas Plants Cozy Up In Florida Sunshine

Can renewable and non-renewable energy be friends? It appears that we’re about to find out, on a huge scale. According to the New York Times, the world’s second-largest solar plant is about to be erected right on on the back of the nation’s largest fossil-fuel power plant in Indiantown, Florida.

It’s a new model designed to give Florida Power and Light a shot at making solar cost-effective, by using cheap natural gas to power the plant. Dubbed the Martin Next Generation Solar Center, the solar thermal plant will be able to generate 75 megawatts at maximum output, enough to power 11,000 homes. By piggy-backing on top of the gas plant, the Florida utilities company hopes to create a more level playing field for renewable energy by cutting the costs by about 20 percent as compared with a stand-alone solar facility.

Martin_NextGen_Solar_Plant

image via Treehugger

Florida Power and Light is already rated highly for its use of wind, solar and energy efficiency, and the hybrid renewable energy model is one that environmentalists have embraced as a solution in terms of creating the economies of scale necessary to get renewable energy a reality. The plant is expected to begin service during the second quarter of 2010.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.