Duke Energy Florida has announced its latest plans to incorporate solar into their energy generation, according to a press release. The energy company plans to install a solar facility in Osceola County with a capacity of 3.8 megawatts.
The facility will take up 17 acres of a 25-acre piece of land DEF owns in Osceola County. The remaining part of the land includes one of DEF's transmission substations, which will connect the solar farm to the grid.
Construction will begin as soon as DEF has the proper development permits approved by the Osceola County Planning Department, and the substation is expected to be functional early next year.
This facility is the first of several projects, which will introduce 35 megawatts of solar power in Florida before 2018 and 500 megawatts by 2024. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the plan will double the 243 megawatts of solar energy produced by the state today.
Duke Energy's press release explained that the solar installations will contribute to cutting the state's coal consumption in half by 2018. Other efforts include a combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County, plus improvements to a combined-cycle energy complex and the acquisition of the Osprey Energy Center, both in Polk County.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable energy sources contributed to 2 percent of Florida's electricity in 2014. The state was 10th in the country for utility solar generation.
"As the cost of solar energy continues to decrease, we're increasing our investments in this resource," Alex Glenn, Duke Energy's state president in Florida, said in a press release. "It's part of our ongoing strategy to offer clean energy and provide customers more options to use renewable energy."
Solar power goes to Disney World
Duke Energy Florida's solar production goals extend beyond the projects contributing to the anticipated 500 megawatts. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the company plans to bring solar energy to Walt Disney World.
Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2015 and will include 48,000 solar panels arranged in the iconic shape of Mickey Mouse's head. The facility will take up about 20 acres and is expected to have a capacity to produce five megawatts. These five megawatts are separate from the goal of 500 megawatts by 2024.
According to Duke Energy, over the past 12 years, DEF has contributed $8 million to install solar panels at 49 Florida schools and universities. This helps to teach the community about solar energy production.
Duke Energy expects to allocate about $3 million to renewable energy over the next five years. The company has invested $4 million in solar and wind facilities over the past eight years in 12 states. The company provides 7.3 million customers in the U.S. with energy. It is the biggest electric power holding company in the country. DEF serves 1.7 million Florida residents.