Florida Power & Light Company Opens Discovery Solar Energy Center at Kennedy Space Center
By Space Coast Daily // June 12, 2021
located off NASA Parkway across from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), joined by NASA, state and local officials, today commissioned the FPL Discovery Solar Energy Center – one of the company’s most visible solar energy centers in the state.
FPL Discovery is located at Kennedy Space Center where 1.5 million annual visitors can see it in action.
Today’s event was a celebration of solar energy and the two organizations’ shared commitment to STEM education. The Pink Team – an accomplished Florida high school robotics team – re-engineered their signature 2021 pink competition robot to cut the ribbon, commemorating the solar energy center’s official start of operations.
The completion of the FPL Discovery Solar Energy Center means FPL is now more than 40% of the way to its “30-by-30” plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030.
This initiative will bring 11,700 MW of cost-effective solar capacity to the company by 2030, enough energy to power more than 2 million homes and making Florida one of the largest and most affordable solar states in America.
“At Florida Power & Light Company, we have been honored to power some of the most remarkable moments in American history — like the first crewed mission to land on the moon in 1969. We are proud to build on this historic relationship with our friends at NASA as we commission our 40th solar energy center,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Importantly, it’s also part of how we consistenly deliver America’s best energy value.”
The commissioning of the FPL Discovery Solar Energy Center is an exceptional moment for FPL and NASA’s shared solar history. As FPL installed 500 acres of solar panels at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA embarked on a parallel initiative to repower the International Space Station with solar arrays. At today’s event, Janet Petro, acting director of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, emphasized the importance of bringing clean, renewable energy closer to home.
“Kennedy Space Center is our nation’s gateway to the universe, but our responsibility to future generations starts right here at home. For this reason, leasing the land for the Discovery Solar Energy Center to FPL is a win-win,” said Petro. “Now, previously underutilized NASA land is generating clean, zero-emissions energy for the space center and beyond.”
Both Silagy and Petro provided remarks during today’s commissioning ceremony. Attendees also got a unique view of the solar energy center from a temporary viewing platform and had the opportunity to meet FPL’s “Sunny” the solar tree — a 3D augmented reality feature installed on the platform at the event. “Sunny” created an immersive experience to bring solar technology to life for visitors by teaching about the benefits of solar energy.
FPL also used the event to showcase the cutting-edge technology it deploys during hurricane season, including drone technology, a robot dog and rover – all of which are part of the company’s forward-looking strategy that demonstrates its commitment to its customers.
Like NASA, we are always looking over the horizon and harnessing new technology so we can build a more resilient and sustainable energy future that all of us can depend on – including future generations. This unwavering dedication allows us to provide our customers with even more clean, reliable and affordable energy,” explained Silagy. “The FPL Discovery Solar Energy Center is just one example of our commitment to help the Sunshine State live up to its name.
To conclude the ceremony, the Pink Team – a local high school robotics team which is supported by both NASA and FPL – modified its 2021 competition robot, aptly named “Pinky,” to cut the ceremonial ribbon.
“Beyond competition season, I never considered just how much our team and Pinky were capable of,” said Gabriel Cenker, a student from the Pink Team. “Not only did we retrofit Pinky to cut the ribbon at the FPL Discovery Solar Energy Center commissioning, but we also figured out how to incorporate solar energy to help charge its battery, and we had a lot of fun while doing it.”
The FPL Discovery Solar Energy Center is a 74.5 megawatt solar site, capable of producing enough zero-emissions energy to power 15,000 homes per year and reducing emissions equivalent to taking 14,000 cares off the road each year.
The site will support FPL SolarTogether™ – the largest community solar program in the nation, which allows both residential and business customers to receive the financial and environmental benefits of solar energy without needing their own solar panels. The program benefits all FPL customers by reducing the company’s already low fuel costs and adding even more solar generation to FPL’s energy mix.
This solar energy center is FPL’s 40th in the state, and more are on the way. By installing solar across the vast Florida peninsula, the company is maximizing solar energy generation and customer savings. In all, FPL’s current investments in solar energy are expected to save customers more than $400 million dollars over the life of the assets.