World’s second* largest solar plant to be built in Florida

Concentrated solar-thermal power (CSP) is a core climate solution. It is probably the zero-carbon form of electricity with the most potential, since it can be easily integrated with thermal storage and provide power reliably throughout the day and evening in key locations around the world (including China and India), which is why it delivers 3 of the 12–14 wedges needed for “the full global warming solution.”

After being neglected for nearly 2 decades, CSP is finally coming of age with major new deals around the world and here at home (see “Biggest CA utility contracts for world’s biggest solar power deal — 1300 MW solar thermal”). But while we tend to think of CSP as being the most suitable for desert-like conditions, it also makes sense anywhere it is sunny.

As the headline suggests, Lauren Engineers & Contractors and Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) signed a contract on Thursday to build a 75-megawatt concentrated solar thermal facility near Indiantown, Florida (artists’s conception above).

According to a press release, the project, christened the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, would be second only to a 100-megawatt facility that was recently given the green light in California, and is slated to be up and running by either the end of 2009 or the second quarter of 2010 [Note to FPL: You have two different in-service dates listed on your website].

A couple of facts to note:

First, if completed on time, Lauren Engineers and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) will indeed have the world’s second largest solar plant. And according to Wikipedia, no other larger plants are under construction — see to “List of solar thermal power station” and “List of photovoltaic power stations.” The good news is that there are many much larger planned solar plants — some ten times larger. So within the decade, this will may not even make the top ten.


Second, they have packaged the new sun farm together with an existing natural gas combined cycle plant. So this isn’t carbon free power.

Still, it is very low carbon baseload power, in a non-desert region, which is an important step forward.

Here is the complete press release:

WORLD’S SECOND LARGEST SOLAR PLANT TO BE BUILT IN FLORIDAABILENE, TX, MARCH 26, 2009: Lauren Engineers & Constructors recently signed a contract with Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for a new 75 MW Concentrated Solar Power Plant located near Indiantown, FL.

This landmark solar project will achieve several milestones for solar power, including:

  • The second largest solar thermal power plant in the World
  • The largest solar thermal plant outside of California
  • The first hybrid solar facility in the world to connect to an existing combined-cycle power plant

This project, named the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, will be located on 500 acres of land adjacent to FPL’s Martin Plant. Using Parabolic Trough Technology to capture heat from the sun, this project will include approximately 200,000 parabolic mirrors. Total power produced for this new solar plant will be 155,000 MWh of power annually — enough power for 11,000 homes or 26,000 people.

Utilizing the latest in Solar Thermal technology, this revolutionary solar project will help to advance the field of solar power by producing clean energy at a competitive price. According to FPL’s website, the Martin Facility is expected to reduce green house gas emissions by approximately 2.75 million tons over a thirty year period, which is the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road annually for the next 30 years.

“Lauren is proud to build this project and is dedicated to a project approach which minimizes disruption to the local community and ecosystem,” said Cleve Whitener, CEO of Lauren Engineers & Constructors.

In addition to this milestone solar project, Lauren also built the Nevada Solar One Power Plant, a 64 MW solar power plant located in Boulder City, Nevada. Construction for this plant, the largest built in over 17 years, was completed in June 2007. Lauren’s key role as the only contractor to have built a concentrated solar power facility in the US in the last 17 years has helped to solidify Lauren as the premier contractor for solar power facilities in North America.

Further project details, pictures and videos can be found on Florida Power & Light’s Website:

— Joseph Romm and Sean Pool