Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) recently unveiled the world’s largest solar-powered battery at a time when the system will be needed most: after dark.
During a commissioning ceremony, FPL illuminated the night sky with a light and drone show powered by the newly commissioned FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center, a world-record-breaking solar battery.
“It’s been a momentous year for clean energy in Florida – 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,” said Eric Silagy, FPL president, and CEO.
“Since embarking on the largest solar expansion in the nation, the company has also installed more than 13 million solar panels and is already 45% of the way toward reaching our ‘30-by-30’ goal to install 30 million solar panels across the state of Florida by 2030. What makes me most proud is that these projects are cost-effective for customers, which helps keep bills low over the long term. This battery is another example of how FPL has become a leader in clean energy and sustainability without sacrificing affordability or reliability.”
The newly operational battery, which is the world’s largest battery when measured by generating output and the world’s largest solar-powered battery when measured by both total output and capacity per hour, will enable customers to enjoy the benefits of solar even when the sun’s not shining, such as at night or on a cloudy day.
When the sun’s rays are strongest, the battery system will store extra solar energy produced by the existing Manatee Solar Energy Center and feed that power to the grid when it’s needed most.
By deploying energy from the battery when there is a higher demand for electricity, FPL will offset the need to run other power plants – further reducing emissions and saving customers money through avoided fuel costs.
The Manatee Energy Storage Center is made up of 132 energy storage containers, organized across a 40-acre plot of land, equivalent to 30 football fields.
The battery has a 409-MW capacity and can deliver 900 MWh of energy – the equivalent of 100 million iPhone batteries, or enough energy to power approximately 329,000 homes for more than two hours.
FPL’s rapid expansion of solar and battery storage
Following years of research, FPL is making major breakthroughs in energy storage technology. FPL researched battery storage technology for several years to study a variety of potential benefits, from grid stabilization to improved solar integration.
In 2018, FPL built the largest combined operating solar and energy storage center at the time at Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County.
In addition to the Manatee Energy Storage Center, FPL continues to execute on a 50 MW battery storage pilot program that comprises eight projects, including a building-sized battery in Miami and innovative microgrids in Riviera Beach and on FIU’s engineering campus.
Earlier this year, FPL and GE Digital celebrated the opening of the new cutting-edge Microgrid Control Lab at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
The lab will serve as a state-of-the-art research facility and control room for engineering faculty and students. FPL and GE Digital are co-sponsoring the lab at UCF, which will feature control center equipment and software that students will use to simulate and test real-life grid control operations, including finding ways to optimize and keep the grid of the future secure.
FPL’s investments in battery storage technology directly complement the company’s nation-leading expansion of solar energy. Today, FPL operates 42 solar energy centers from Pensacola to Miami.
In addition to completing construction on the world’s largest solar-powered battery storage facility, FPL expects to complete construction on eight more solar energy centers by early next year. By the end of the decade, FPL forecasts that nearly 40% of the company’s power will be generated by zero-emissions energy sources – a more than 65% increase from 2020.