March 27, 2023
NextEra Energy's ambitious 'real zero' plan leaves carbon emissions behind for good

An FPL worker looks over a battery storage unit at one of the company's solar facilities.

Economic Backbone: Energy

NextEra Energy's ambitious 'real zero' plan leaves carbon emissions behind for good

NextEra's carbon emissions plan covers a lot of green.

Mike Vogel | 9/8/2022

Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy captured attention earlier this year when it announced it would eliminate carbon emissions by 2045 and use only wind, solar, battery storage, nuclear, green hydrogen and other renewables to provide power. Unlike other net zero promises, NextEra says its “real zero” doesn’t rely on buying carbon credits to offset power generation.

The shift will take FPL from the current 4,000 megawatts produced by 15 million solar panels to 90,000 megawatts from “hundreds of millions of solar panels.” It also will add 50,000 megawatts of battery storage, compared to 500 megawatts currently.

FPL says it can’t be specific about how much land it will take to house those solar panels and battery storage. Existing solar projects in Florida have run from 500 acres to 600 acres for approximately 75 megawatts of power.

At 75 megawatts each, FPL would need another 1,147 solar facilities to reach its 90,000 megawatt goal. At 500 to 600 acres each, FPL would need 573,500 to 688,200 acres. That equals from 896 square miles (larger than Duval County) to 1,075 square miles (roughly Hillsborough County).

FPL spokesman Chris McGrath says that overestimates the needed land. As solar tech has advanced, it’s become more efficient in land used, he says. He cites a 25-megawatt project opened in DeSoto County in 2009. Projects today generate triple the power on the same size or smaller parcels. — By Mike Vogel

Clean Hydrogen Buy

NextEra Energy Resources upped its investment in a company now valued at $1 billion as a solution to providing clean hydrogen for power. BlackRock, TPG and Temasek also participated in a round of funding that raised $300 million in July for Lincoln, Neb.-based startup Monolith. Many hydrogen producers aim to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, which is said to be both expensive and inefficient. Monolith’s process uses renewable electricity to heat natural gas, turning it into hydrogen and carbon black, which is an ingredient used in products as diverse as tires and paint. Monolith has received conditional approval of a $1-billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a large-scale plant.

Tags: Energy & Utilities, Environment

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