The Greening of Kennedy
05.27.09
 
During the next few days, NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Florida's largest utility provider will break ground on a 10-megawatt photovoltaic solar power facility on 60 acres of the center.

NASA officials, VIPs, news media and elected officials kicked off the green effort at a ceremony May 27 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
An aerial view of the Industrial Area where a solar power system will be built

Image above: An aerial view of the site in the Industrial Area of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida where a solar power system will be built. The solar power systems are being constructed by NASA and Florida Power & Light Company as part of a public-private partnership that promotes a clean-energy future. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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Maps show one of the locations of the proposed solar power systems

Image above: These maps show one of the locations of the proposed solar power systems that NASA and Florida Power & Light Company are beginning to construct on NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Image courtesy of FPL
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An aerial view of site on State Route 3 on KSC

Image above: An aerial view of the site on S.R. 3 on NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida where a solar power system will be built. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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Under an agreement signed by NASA and FPL in June 2008, the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center will support the electrical needs of the center and help reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Speakers during the ceremony were Kennedy Director Bob Cabana, FPL President and Chief Executive Officer Armando Olivera, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and U.S. Reps. Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla.

"The partnership between NASA and FPL is an excellent one that comes at the right time," said Cabana. "It will help provide clean, renewable power to Florida residents, it will help support America's space program by supplying electricity directly to Kennedy Space Center, and it helps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and improves the environment."

FPL will build and maintain two solar photovoltaic power generation systems at Kennedy. One will produce an estimated 10 megawatts of emissions-free power for FPL customers, which is enough energy to serve about 1,100 homes. The second is a one-megawatt solar power facility that will provide renewable energy directly to Kennedy and help NASA meet its goal for use of power generated from renewable energy.

"Like NASA, FPL is looking beyond the horizon," Olivera said. "We are building more emissions-free solar power with the quality of life of our children and grandchildren in mind."

The FPL facilities at NASA will help provide Florida residents and America's space program with new sources of clean energy that will cut reliance on fossil fuels and improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 227,000 tons during a period of 30 years.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that's the equivalent of removing 1,800 cars from the road every year for the entire life of the project. It also will save about 122,000 barrels of oil and 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas during its lifetime.

"There's no better time than right now to start using the sun and other clean sources to power America," Nelson said. "And, perhaps, there's no better agency to help lead the way than NASA. Let's hope power companies all over the country take a cue from this partnership."

The system is expected to generate about 1.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, which translates to a reduction of almost 1,300 tons of carbon dioxide, nearly four tons of sulfur dioxide and two tons of nitrogen oxide.

"Florida is poised to be a leader in America's growing clean energy economy, which naturally includes solar power," Kosmas said. "Bringing new clean energy jobs to our communities is one of my top priorities. This joint effort between NASA and FPL is an example of how we can create jobs while investing in common-sense solutions to the economic, environmental and national security challenges we face today."

Posey said he too has a strong commitment to renewable energy. "I am pleased to see this project going forward right here on the Space Coast," said Posey. "This is an important step in the development of future sources of renewable energy."

Kennedy's previously largest solar power system was installed at the center's landfill in 2005. The five-kilowatt, solar photovoltaic system provides electrical power to one of two buildings previously powered by diesel generators, saving the government about $26,000 per year, and eliminating the safety and environmental hazards associated with generators.

In 2003, Kennedy installed a solar thermal system at the Film Storage Building and a one-kilowatt array was installed to provide electrical power to a lightning detection device in 2004. Solar powered parking lot lights are in use at the Life Support Facility, a Kennedy facility built in 2008.

The center reduced its electricity consumption from 266,200 megawatt-hours in 2003 to 249,700 megawatt-hours in 2008.

 
 
Linda Herridge
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center