Florida energy officials led President Obama through the ___________ of more than 90,000 solar panels that make up the new energy plant in central Florida. The facility in Arcadia is expected to help power 3,000 homes, at its peak, and do so without producing carbon ___________, like traditional coal-fired plants.
President Obama said he welcomes the drive to open renewable energy facilities. «For the very first time, a large-scale solar power plant, the largest of its ___________ in the entire nation, will deliver electricity produced by the sun to the citizens of the Sunshine State. And I think it’s about time.»
In spite of its nickname as the «sunshine state,» Florida has ___________ behind other states in solar energy production until now. State utility Florida Power and Light says its Arcadia plant will produce 25 megawatts of energy, making it the largest in the nation at least for now. The ___________ has two other solar plants nearing completion in Florida, including one that will make three times more energy than the Arcadia site.
Experts say the $150 million plant is expensive compared to other technologies, and produces only a fraction of the state’s energy needs.
But Jim Fenton, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida, says costs are ___________ quickly. «The cost of solar has been dropping on average about ___________ percent a year, where the cost of traditional energies has been going up exponentially because the price of ___________ fuels is going up.»
Fenton says within three years the cost of large solar plants should be the same as for coal or oil power plants.
Energy leaders in California and Nevada also recognize the opportunity of solar power and are planning to build new plants in coming months. Even China’s government has commissioned a U.S. firm to build a massive facility that would produce ___________ times more solar energy than the new Florida plant.
Steve Smith directs the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which ___________ for renewable energy uses in Florida and nearby states. He says interest in solar power is growing. «I actually believe that we are at the beginning of a ___________ in activity in investing in renewable energy. The big question is which states and which countries are going to get the manufacturing jobs for producing solar panels.»
Japan, Germany and China are key producers of the photovoltaic panels used to capture sunlight and pass it onto the electrical ___________. Smith says U.S. officials should move quickly to create incentives for U.S. panel makers to open new factories in Florida and other states. «With the high unemployment levels you want more job ___________ to come into the state.»
Smith says growth in the solar energy industry could be a boon for the environment and the economy at the same time.