Wind Power in the Sunshine State

Guest Blog | April 7, 2015 | Energy Policy, Events, Wind
Florida Wind Energy Resource
This map shows some of the areas with wind resources suited for development with newer, taller turbines. Source: Adapted from NREL's 110 meter hub height wind speed map for areas achieving 35% capacity factors or greater (November, 2014).

This is the fifth post in a blog series discussing state-by-state highlights of wind energy throughout the South in the lead up to the WINDPOWER Expo in Orlando, FL, May 18 – 21. See the rest of the series here.

New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Florida. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the Southeast. One modern wind turbine can now power the equivalent of about 600 homes a year!

New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the increased potential for wind turbine development in Florida with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Florida. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 11,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Florida.  Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Florida (just 9% of Florida’s potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!

Based on the Jobs and Economic Development Index model, developed by NREL, developing one gigawatt worth of wind energy capacity in Florida could support approximately 4,600 direct, indirect and induced jobs during construction and up to 138 ongoing operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $7.2 million.

Although Florida has yet to develop a wind farm, the state is already benefitting from the wind industry. In February, Gulf Power announced it would purchase approximately 180 megawatts of wind power from the Kingfisher wind farm in Oklahoma – the first wind power purchase for the Sunshine State.

Florida is also currently home to about 15 energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were up to 2,000 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Florida. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs. A few of the wind energy-related manufacturing facilities in Florida include:

  • General Electric (Pensacola, FL) – GE’s 2.5-megawatt turbines are manufactured at their Pensacola facility. GE won a $1.4 billion contract to install these turbines at the nation’s largest wind farm at the time of installation in 2011-12 – the Shepherds Flat project in Oregon.
  • American Wire Group (Hallandale Beach, FL) – Manufactures power cables, including subsea power cables for offshore wind farms.
  • DeTect (Panama City, FL) – Manufactures radar equipment, specializing in wind energy, avian, and aviation applications.
  • New Avionics Corp (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Manufactures sensors to detect ice build up on wind turbines.

The Southeastern Wind Coalition has published wind energy fact sheets on this state and others from around the Southeast. You can access those fact sheets here.

As the Southeast becomes a new frontier for wind energy, it is only fitting that the largest wind energy conference of the year will be in Orlando, Florida. Join us, May 18-21, 2015 for the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition in Orlando. Each year, the event draws thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors all looking to advance the wind industry. WINDPOWER features over 30 sessions ranging from market and policy analysis, to project performance and technical advancements in wind energy. It’s an excellent way to connect with subject matter experts–anyone interested in the wind industry should plan on attending. As a benefit to you for reading our blog, you can use this discount code to receive $50 off the full registration: SPKWP50.

We hope you can join us in Orlando to learn more about wind energy opportunities for Florida and the entire Southeast! You can register here. 

Credit: American Wind Energy Association


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