A solar-energy powerhouse
A solar-energy powerhouse
Below are excerpts from a recent report by the nonpartisan group Florida Tax Watch, The Positive Economic Impact of Solar Energy on the Sunshine State.
Like the nation as a whole, Florida’s appetite for energy appears insatiable. As one of the largest economies in the world, the energy required to fuel the state’s economic engine is significant. At the same time, the U.S. solar industry is at an opportune crossroad, and Florida is uniquely positioned to take advantage of public and governmental encouragement to reach beyond the historical dependency of the U.S. on fossil fuel.
With 100 megawatts (MW) currently under construction, and 11 megawatts breaking ground on May 27, Florida will quickly become the second-largest producer of electricity from the sun in the nation (California is the largest). This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to attract a new, clean-tech industry to the state, bringing with it new jobs, taxpayer advantages, and critical forward-thinking energy policy.
Florida has a natural competitive advantage in solar-power generation compared to almost any place on Earth. The average number of days with sunshine in North Florida is 361 — and that number is even higher in the southern part of the state.
Second, Florida has a trained workforce that complements the solar industry. Most of the construction jobs needed for solar facilities can be drawn from the residential and commercial construction industries — both sectors of which are currently very economically depressed. Also, with thoughtful planning for the future, Florida has a robust university system that can provide the developing industry with bright, new talent.
A strong, balanced energy research program, based on the most efficient use of our natural resources while minimizing our dependence on imported energy, is critical to Florida and the United States.
Third, many manufacturers — both national and international — now consider Florida to be one of if not the most-attractive solar markets in the United States. Unlike California, Florida is permitting and building new facilities. Historically, the Florida Public Service Commission has been open to innovation and is widely respected, thereby resulting in a stable, predictable market that attracts investment.
Expanding solar energy production will provide many benefits to Florida. A critical mass of installed solar energy production will lead to permanent, high paying jobs in Florida. The demand for so-called ”green collar” jobs has been driven by an expanding solar market, which supports 15-30 jobs per megawatt produced. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s economic data estimates that if Florida installed 1,500 MW up to 45,000 direct jobs and 50,000 indirect jobs would be created.