A Sector Portrait
Florida's total power consumption: 226,172 million kilowatt hours, ranking the state third nationally, behind Texas and California
Alternative energy research news from Florida’s universities:
» Poplar Alternative — University of Florida plant geneticist Matias Kirst is working on what scientists consider one of the most promising alternatives to corn ethanol — fuel derived from poplar trees. Kirst has an $873,000, five-year grant for the work; he was the only researcher in Florida to land the U.S. Department of Energy special funding designed to “bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years.” Kirst uses a technique called “association mapping,” which compares different poplar trees to find out which genes contribute to those properties most important to bioenergy production. Eventually, Kirst and colleagues hope to create the ideal poplar for cellulosic ethanol.
» Ocean Energy — The U.S. Department of Energy recently designated Florida Atlantic University as a national center for ocean energy research and development. The new Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at FAU joins centers in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii working on readiness for ocean-energy technologies including currents and thermal energy. FAU researchers have already developed a potential turbine for the Gulf Stream. At this point, they’re working on ocean-current observation systems to monitor the potential promise and effects, such as environmental impacts, of that and other technologies. The center will ultimately field test prototype devices on behalf of the Department of Energy.
Ian Winger (left) and Sean Barton hope to take their “solar sausage” to market in 2011.