December 2, 2008 / 5:12 PM / 9 years ago

FPL breaks ground on Florida solar-thermal plant

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) - FPL Group Inc's Florida Power & Light Co broke ground on the 75-megawatt Martin solar-thermal power station in Florida, the company said in a release Tuesday.

The facility, which is expected to enter service in 2010, will combine solar-thermal with a combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plant to use less fossil fuel when heat from the sun is available to produce steam needed to generate electricity.

It will consist of about 180,000 mirrors over roughly 500 acres at FPL's existing 3,657 MW Martin natural gas/oil-fired power station in Martin County. Martin County is about 100 miles north of Miami.

FPL said the solar-thermal station should provide enough power to serve about 11,000 homes, while preventing the emissions of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road every year for the life of the project, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Martin solar-thermal facility is the largest of three solar projects FPL is building in Florida for a combined total of 110 MW. The other two projects are at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and in Desoto County.

FPL already operates the 310 MW Solar Electric Generating System in California's Mojave Desert, which is the largest solar-thermal plant in the world.

FPL, of Juno Beach, Florida, owns and operates about 38,000 MW of generating capacity across the United States, markets energy commodities, and transmits and distributes electricity to more than 4.5 million customers in Florida. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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