NASA Reaps Benefits from Solar Farm and Plans New Energy Project
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The electricity that's being used at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., now is partly supplied by the space agency's first large-scale solar power generation facility. Representatives from NASA, Florida Power & Light Company and SunPower Corporation formally commissioned a one-megawatt facility Thursday and used the occasion to announce plans to pursue a new research, development and demonstration project at Kennedy to advance America's use of renewable energy.
The facility is the first element of a major renewable energy project currently under construction at Kennedy. The completed system features a fixed-tilt, ground-mounted solar power system designed and built by SunPower, along with SunPower solar panels. A 10-megawatt solar farm, which SunPower is building on a nearby Kennedy property, will supply power to FPL's customers when it's completed in April 2010.
At Thursday's commissioning ceremony, Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana and FPL Vice President and Chief Development Officer Eric Silagy announced plans to establish a permanent renewable energy research and development center at Kennedy along with a new solar facility that would expand the 10-megawatt generating capability up to 100-megawatts. This expansion of the solar facilities is contingent on regulatory support and the passage of renewable energy legislation at the state level.
If proven environmentally and economically feasible, an expansive field of photovoltaic solar panels will be constructed in phases on 500 or more acres of fallow Kennedy agricultural land and integrated into the utility's grid. A dedicated research and development facility to support continual improvement of solar renewable energy would be established by SunPower and FPL's other partners at Kennedy's business complex, Exploration Park.
"Both our current projects are nearing completion, and this proposed expanded collaboration with FPL directly responds to the president's recent executive order directing NASA and other federal agencies to expand their use of renewable power and enable renewable projects on agency lands," said Cabana. "We are pleased to be taking a leadership role in supporting this important national goal aimed at increasing America's energy independence while improving the planet's environment."
"FPL is a national leader in the development of clean, renewable energy, and we are committed to growing the renewable power industry here in Florida, which will spur the local economy and create jobs," said Silagy. "These solar projects are an important part of Florida's clean-energy future and we are proud to be at the forefront of powering the space program. Like NASA, FPL is looking beyond the horizon. We are prepared and excited about the prospect of building more emissions-free solar power with the quality of life of our children and grandchildren in mind."
"We congratulate NASA and FPL for their commitment to the development of solar technologies, and for making solar energy a key part of the nation's economic recovery and the protection of the environment for future generations," said Howard Wenger, president, global business units for SunPower. "Solar power systems can be built quickly anywhere and at any scale, and we are pleased to partner with NASA and FPL on these important projects."
The dedicated R&D facility proposed for Exploration Park could result in at least 50 high-salary science and engineering positions permanently established at Kennedy by SunPower and FPL's other partners, a potential for solar panel manufacturing located nearby and as many as 1,000 new construction jobs. FPL and Kennedy have initiated environmental studies and a plan to support the next project, which could be initiated before the end of 2010.
The proposed project will be pursued under a five-year Memorandum of Understanding entered into by Kennedy and FPL in 2007 to promote jointly developed projects in renewable technologies. Implementation will require completion of the environmental and business assessments, the development of a formal partnering agreement, renewable energy legislation at the state level and a constructive regulatory framework.
The current agreement to construct two solar energy projects totaling 11 megawatts recently won the 2009 General Services Administration Award for Asset Management. The public-private partnership for solar power facilities at Kennedy was selected by the GSA judges for its innovative use of federal land, and published as a "best practice" example by GSA's Office of Government-wide Policy.
For information about Florida Power & Light and its programs, visit: http://www.fpl.com
For information about SunPower, visit: http://www.sunpowercorp.com
For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy
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