Despite having a great solar resource, there has been very little development of a solar PV market in Florida. Ditto for other indigenous renewable resources. There isn’t a lot of info as to how much renewable energy capacity actually exists in the state, but estimates fluctuate between 1% - 3% of total capacity. Most of that is biomass or municipal solid waste.
But the passage of last year’s 2006 Energy Bill has provided grants and incentives for solar and there are the beginnings of a buzz in the air. So far, I’ve made two trips to Florida this year to talk about solar policies. The first trip was to participate in a renewable energy workshop held by the FL Public Service Commission. The second trip was to give presentations to the sister committees on public utilities for the FL Senate and House.
|Here I am at the Florida House Committee on Communications & Public Utilities, most likely describing the size of the solar market in Florida today.|
|Now I’m persuasively demonstrating how big it COULD be with the right policies and programs in place. See? Much bigger.|
I’m optimistic that we’ll see more action from Florida in the near future. Floridians certainly stand to benefit from a robust solar market — there’s that nickname to live up to, of course, and the fact that they are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. But there is also a real need to diversify Florida’s energy mix and move away from a pretty hefty dependence on natural gas and oil. Very little petroleum is actually used to generate electricity in the US — its only about 2% of the fuel mix. However, according to US Energy Information Administration, a whopping 34% of that is consumed in Florida — this represents the single largest share.
Between committee meetings, I had a little time to explore Tallahassee. Near Florida State University, I found a colorful community in a neighborhood called Railroad Square. Art galleries, vintage thrift stores, a small cafe, and (my favorite) the local rock climbing gym. No matter what town I’m visiting, finding a place to do a little climbing makes me feel at home. Here I am enjoying the scenery…