Identifying Prospective Sites for Industrial Solar Power Facilities in Eastern Central Florida Using Geospatial Analysis

J Abbott, Daniel Krinsky
With a population of over 18 million people, Florida ranks third nationally in total energy consumption. Florida currently generates 1100 megawatts of alternative electric power from various sources including biomass, hydroelectric sources, landfill gas, and municipal solid waste (DEP, 2006). These alternative sources account for less than two percent of Florida's generation capacity. This heavy reliance on imported traditional, finite energy sources such as coal, natural gas, and oil leads to
more » ... , and oil leads to pollution and a lack of energy independence in the state. Cleaner, renewable sources of energy, such as solar power, would allow Florida to gain energy independence and reduce pollution. Solar technologies, including photovoltaics, have advanced considerably in efficiency and popularity over the past several decades. The southwestern United States has already tapped into this clean renewable energy supply with several large-scale photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants in operation (NREL, 2008). The southeastern United States is presently considering turning to solar with several large-scale solar projects planned for the near future. Considering today's growing clean energy crisis and the technological advancement of alternative sources it seems logical to reconsider these renewable options as a way of reducing dependence on the traditional energy supply and lowering levels of pollution (FEC, 2007). This study analyzes the potential of a nine county region in eastern central Florida to support large-scale solar power facilities. Locating prospective sites for solar plant depends on a situation of several harmonious factors. Sites were identified based on the proximity of existing transmission, urban areas, environmental constraints, land use, and existing land cover. 62