Florida’s sunshine economy: Advanced energy market outpaces agriculture in 2014

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Florida, long heralded as a powerhouse in citrus and agricultural production, will soon be well known as the leader in a new industry: advanced energy.

Last year, advanced energy surpassed agriculture as an important economic driver in Florida, according to the first comprehensive analysis of the state’s energy market.

“Advanced Energy in Florida,” a new report from Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a nationwide trade association, found that revenue in advanced energy outpaced Florida’s agricultural exports in 2014 with $6.2 billion, compared with $4.2 billion in agricultural exports.

“Advanced energy companies are creating jobs and contributing to economic prosperity for the state of Florida and our nation,” AEE CEO Graham Richard said. “From building efficiency to solar power and electric vehicles, Florida has the potential to become a leader in advanced energy technologies and services, with significant benefits for customers and the state’s economy.”

In Florida, advanced energy represents a range of products: development of rooftop solar panels, efficient use of fossil fuels, the spread of smart power meters, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Florida now represents nearly 4 percent of the total U.S. advanced energy market, with increased building efficiency, electricity generation, and advanced transportation as the largest industry sections.

For the report, AEE examined technologies and products in seven areas: building efficiency, power generation, transportation, fuel production, industry, electricity delivery and management, and fuel delivery.

Findings of the report suggest an encouraging picture for the future of advanced energy, including:

  • Florida is third in the nation for rooftop solar potential and 13th in installed capacity today.
  • Florida has the fourth highest potential for commercial Combined Heat and Power (CHP), the most efficient use of fossil fuels for both thermal and electric power, at 5,339 MW.
  • Florida Power & Light Co. has deployed almost 5 million smart meters, reaching its entire customer base.
  • Drive Electric Florida forecasts an increase in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PEVs) in Southeast Florida from 1,074 PEVs today to 74,000 within a decade.
  • Florida has the sixth highest potential for biogas generation from landfills, wastewater treatment, and organic waste.
  • Florida is home to some of the first commercial cellulosic biofuel plants in the world.

Leading Florida’s advanced energy market last year was building efficiency, producing $2.9 billion in revenues through the use of geothermal heat pumps, commercial energy-efficient retrofits, energy efficient lighting and controls, and building energy management systems.

Coming in second and third were electricity generation and transportation, with revenue of $1.2 billion and $1.1 billion respectively.

In energy production, one interesting conclusion was that natural gas had nearly entirely displaced petroleum fuels, which supplied one-sixth of total generation in 2002. The use of coal for producing power also dropped from of one-third to 21 percent. The report also highlighted several prominent utility solar installations, as well as many large commercial facilities.

As for transportation, Florida had already been a leader, with more than $1.1 billion in 2014. Much of this performance came part from stronger sales of electric and hybrid electric vehicles, especially in three U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) designated clean cities: Orlando, Miami, and the Tampa metropolitan areas.

“AEE should be commended for highlighting the current footprint of advanced energy in Florida,” said Sarasota Republican State Rep. Greg Steube. “We look forward to working on further initiatives which will continue to keep Florida at the forefront of innovative and advanced energy technology.”

The full report can be found at aee.net.

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached on Twitter @PhilAmmann or at [email protected].


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