Florida is one of the largest energy-consuming states, but its per capita energy consumption is among the lowest.
Florida consists of a 447-mile-long peninsula, extending from the Georgia border south to the Florida Keys, and a northern panhandle stretching 361 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to Alabama. The state has about 1,200 miles of shoreline, half of it sandy beaches. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream wrap around Florida and travel northward along the state’s Atlantic coast. The sea moderates Florida’s warm climate year round but also makes the state one of the most humid in the nation, with frequent summer thunderstorms and occasional devastating hurricanes. The north and central parts of the state have gentle hills, but the south is close to sea level, and the state’s average elevation is only 100 feet.
Florida was the fourth-largest state by population in the 2010 U.S. Census and became the third-most populated state in 2014. Until the 20th century, the state was largely rural and sparsely populated. Florida has been one of the fastest growing states in recent decades, in part because air conditioning became widely available. More Florida homes—19 out of 20—have air conditioning than have heating systems. International trade, tourism, the space industry, and agriculture are leading Florida industries, with construction, high technology, financial services, and the life sciences growing in importance. Florida produces only small amounts of crude oil and natural gas and consumes substantially more energy than it produces. With its large population, Florida is one of the five largest energy-consuming states, but its per capita energy consumption ranks among the five lowest states because of relatively low industrial sector consumption. The transportation sector leads state energy demand, followed by the residential sector.
Florida gets only a small portion of its energy from renewable sources. Most of its renewable electricity comes from biomass, with the remainder coming from two hydroelectricity generators in the Panhandle and solar facilities scattered around the state. Agricultural and municipal solid waste; landfill and waste gas; and waste heat recovery dominate Florida’s renewable energy facilities. Utility-scale solar technologies comprise almost one-sixth of the state’s renewable electricity generating capacity, but utility-scale and distributed (customer-sited small-scale) solar facilities together contribute less than one-tenth of the state’s renewable net generation.
Biomass, including agricultural and municipal wastes, dominates Florida’s renewable energy.
Florida does not have a renewable energy portfolio, but it does have state and local incentives, such as net metering, for certain renewable energy technologies, including solar. With good solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) resources statewide, Florida expects more than two-thirds of the utility-scale renewable energy capacity built through 2024 to be solar PV. The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Martin County, Florida, a 75-megawatt concentrating solar power facility combined with a 1,100-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas generating plant, is the only concentrating solar thermal generating facility east of the Rocky Mountains as well as the world’s first retrofit hybrid combined-cycle solar-natural gas plant. Distributed solar PV capacity is increasing, with nearly 75 megawatts installed in the state at the end of 2014 and 101 megawatts by January 2016.
About one-fourth of Florida’s renewable capacity additions through 2024 are expected to use biomass. The state has abundant biomass resources, including municipal and agricultural wastes. A cellulosic ethanol plant, designed to produce 8 million gallons of ethanol per year from yard, vegetative, and wood wastes, is located near Vero Beach, Florida. Another ethanol plant designed to use sweet sorghum as a feedstock is under construction. There are also three operational biodiesel plants in the state and several dozen small combined-heat-and-power facilities using biomass-based fuels at industrial sites, including sugar cane, food processing and chemical facilities. Florida has limited wind resources and no installed commercial wind capacity, though some wind power components are manufactured in the state. The potential for a small amount of additional hydroelectric power exists in the northern part of the state.
Florida is one of the largest producers of electricity in the United States, second only to Texas, but Florida still brings in some electricity from adjoining states to meet demand. Natural gas is the leading fuel for in-state electricity production, generating nearly two-thirds of net electricity. Natural gas-fired generation has nearly doubled in the past decade. Natural gas has almost entirely displaced petroleum, which supplied more than one-fifth of generation in 2001, and reduced coal’s share from more than one-third in 2001 to less than one-fifth in 2015. However, some natural gas plants retain capability to switch to petroleum fuels, and petroleum remains an important backup fuel source in case of natural gas supply constraints. Two nuclear power plants on Florida’s Atlantic Coast produce most of the state’s remaining net electricity generation. A third plant, on the Gulf coast, is being decommissioned. New nuclear plants have been proposed at two Florida locations, but plans have not gone forward as electricity demand growth has leveled off, in part because of state efficiency programs.
Florida’s annual electricity demand growth, which had exceeded 2% before 2008, dropped in the recession to less than half that rate. Demand growth is recovering, but the lower rate has extended the time available to bring planned new generating capacity online. About nine-tenths of planned new capacity is natural gas-fueled and one-tenth is renewable, primarily solar. Electric utility planners expect the state’s electricity generating fuel mix to remain fairly stable in the next few years, with natural gas providing about three-fifths of net electricity generation and coal about one-fifth.
The residential sector typically consumes more than half of Florida’s electricity. More than 9 in 10 Florida households use electricity as their primary energy source for home heating, and, with even more households using electricity for air conditioning, the state’s per capita residential electricity consumption is among the highest one-fourth of states. Commercial sector consumption per capita is also high, but total electricity consumption per capita is below the national average because industrial use is small.
Florida’s natural gas production peaked in the late 1970s, and by 2009 it had fallen to a small fraction of earlier production. Increased natural gas withdrawals since 2009 have primarily been used to repressure oil reservoirs to improve oil recovery. Only a small amount of Florida’s limited natural gas production is marketed. Natural gas is produced from the same fields that produce crude oil. Almost all of the state’s natural gas production comes from the Jay Field in the Florida Panhandle.Geologists believe economically recoverable natural gas deposits may lie offshore in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, but remaining onshore proved reserves are quite small.
Florida receives nearly all of its natural gas from the Gulf Coast region via two major interstate pipelines: the Florida Gas Transmission pipeline, which runs from Texas through the Florida panhandle to Miami, and the Gulfstream pipeline, an underwater link from Mississippi and Alabama to central Florida. A small amount of natural gas comes into northern Florida via the Southern Natural pipeline from Georgia. An additional pipeline is being developed to increase natural gas supply to the peninsula. Plans for an offshore liquefied natural gas import terminal, approved in 2009 for a location near Port Manatee, south of Tampa, have been abandoned as U.S. natural gas imports have dwindled.
Most of Florida’s natural gas is consumed in electric power generation. Six of the state’s 10 largest electricity generating plants are fueled with natural gas. Natural gas has displaced petroleum and coal in the electric power sector. About 1 in 20 Florida households use natural gas as a primary home heating fuel.
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