Innovative Solar Technology Exceeds Power Production Expectations
Key West visitors and residents learn about solar power at free exhibit
ORLANDO, Fla., March 28, 2011 – A demonstration of innovative solar technology exceeded all estimates for power production in its first year of operation and educated Key West visitors and residents about climate change, energy conservation and solar power.
The 26 kilowatt (AC) solar photovoltaic installation, a joint project of the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), Keys Energy Services (KEYS) and NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, exceeded projected output by more than four percent, generating 47,361 kWh in 2010. Since beginning operation, the system has already offset more than 88,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to eliminating almost a million 60-watt light bulbs or more than 4,500 gallons of gasoline.
The solar installation is located at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and accompanied by an educational kiosk that educates visitors about climate change, energy conservation and solar power generation. Admission is free to the public, and the Center was visited by 40,423 people in 2010.
“This project is a success in its dual mission of power generation and education,” said FMPA General Manager and CEO Nicholas P. Guarriello. “Demonstration projects like this move us closer to a future when renewables become cost-effective and a greater part of the power mix.”
Project demonstrates “peel and stick” technology
The solar installation is jointly owned by FMPA and NOAA and operated by Keys Energy Services, the public power utility for the lower Florida Keys. The system now provides about 30 percent of the Center’s power needs and is part of FMPA’s statewide network of power generating resources serving 14 communities located throughout Florida, from the Panhandle to Key West.
The project uses a “peel and stick” solar technology that generates electricity with an innovative thin-film solar panel mounted to a rooftop using an adhesive material. The technology was selected as the best match for the Florida Keys’ unique environmental conditions. Other advantages of the technology include the ability to capture the complete solar spectrum more efficiently and the ability to generate in low-light conditions. Additionally, the panels’ flexible, lightweight construction made it possible to complete installation over a period of only 10 days. The panels were energized Dec. 23, 2009, and both the system and the educational kiosk were dedicated on March 26, 2010.
“It is our hope that solar technology will continue to improve and become more cost-effective so customers can utilize the lessons learned from our demonstration unit and install their own renewable energy sources that can be grid-tied to sell excess power back to KEYS,” said KEYS General Manager and CEO Lynne Tejeda.
Kiosk educates public about energy, the environment
Educating the public is a key element of the partnership. The project is at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, which is located at 35 East Quay Road in Key West. The center features an array of interactive exhibits, dioramas and displays, including a 2,500 gallon aquarium, highlight the rich natural environment of the Florida Keys.
The solar exhibit provides information about global climate change, energy conservation and renewable generating technologies. The kiosk features an interactive display that shows the solar installation’s electrical output and environmental offsets in real time. The real-time monitoring system also can be viewed online at http://www.keysecosolar.com
“In addition to the positive impact the project is having in terms of reducing costs and direct environmental impacts, the project’s educational component has the potential to inspire visitors to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center to save energy and preserve natural resources, reduce pollution and enhance energy independence,” said Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton. “Together, all of these things can help to protect the beautiful and unique marine resources of the Florida Keys.”
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Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) is a wholesale power company owned by 30 municipal electric utilities. FMPA provides economies of scale in power generation and related services to support community-owned electric utilities. The members of FMPA serve approximately two million Floridians.
Keys Energy Services (KEYS) is the public power utility for Key West and the Lower Florida Keys. Headquartered in Key West, Fla., KEYS provides electricity from Key West to the Seven-Mile Bridge and serves more than 28,000 customers.
Established in 1990, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of important marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats, as well as maritime heritage resources. NOAA and the State of Florida manage the sanctuary.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.