Duke Energy Florida adds two new solar power plant locations to help quadruple solar over next four years

Published on March 17, 2021 by Chris Galford

© Duke Energy

In a three million solar panel push, Duke Energy Florida (DEF) announced this week that two new locations had been chosen for solar power plants in Hardee and Citrus counties, respectively.

Currently, DEF has more than 900 MW of solar generation either under construction or operating and intends to more than quadruple the amount of solar running on its system over the next four years. The new plants will play a major role in this.

“These solar power plants are examples of how mining sites can be developed for renewable energy and benefit our communities and the environment,” Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president, said. “Duke Energy Florida is delivering on what our customers want – access to clean energy at a competitive price. We are providing environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and innovative solar that benefits all of our Florida customers.”

In Hardee, this will consist of the Fort Green Power Plant, which will spread over 500 acres and provide another 74.9 MW to the grid, thanks to approximately 265,000 new solar panels. A separate project, the Bay Trail Solar Power Plant, will spread across another 500 acres in Citrus County. Like Fort Green, it will bring in 74.9 MW, but consisting of fewer panels — approximately 197,000 in total.

Fort Green will use a fixed-tilt racking system to produce enough carbon-free energy to power more than 20,000 typical homes at peak production. Bay Trail will be unique for its bifacial solar panels — double-sided designs capable of tracking the sun and providing greater efficiency in the production process. Thanks to this, it will be capable of powering approximately 23,000 average homes at peak production.

Both will be making use of mining territory. Fort Green is moving over a former phosphate mine, while Bay Trail is being set up at the site of a future mining operation.