Florida Energy Problems, Options, and Suggested Solutions

Climate change is a serious problem with rapidly increasing world temperatures, (the last 5 years were the hottest years in history), increased melting of ice caps and glaciers, increased sea level rise, increased coastal flooding, stronger storms and hurricanes, increased wild fire damage worldwide, increased tick and mosquito borne disease driven by global warming, plant growing zone changes and more dangerous droughts necessitating mass migrations, etc. The damage cost is already huge and getting larger, amounting to billions per year in some states.

More needs to be done reducing carbon emissions through promoting alternative and clean energy options, more energy and resource conservation and increased energy efficiency standards, transportation system energy improvements , low carbon food system promotion, etc.

         The following is a brief summary of the main energy related problems and issues to be dealt with over the next few years, and policy options and solutions to deal with the problems and needs. Recent trends in energy use have been unsustainable and have led to major environmental and economic problems including climate change, energy dependency, and export of economic capital and falling value of the dollar. Rapid advances in technology of alternative energy options like thin-film  solar PV,  concentrators , dye-sensitized solar cells,  energy storage equipment , wind turbines, ocean and tidal power,  CHP , etc. appear likely to make such options more cost effective, as well as cleaner, than traditional generation technologies within 5 years.  Some of these options including energy efficiency options , solar PV, wind turbines, and combined heat and power( CHP ) applications are already more cost effective than traditional generation technologies, as well as reducing global warming and pollution effects.  

        Nuclear power and coal plant  capital cost  have been rapidly increasing in recent years due to rapidly rising costs for steel, concrete, copper, other materials, and specialty labor. Total  capital and operating costs  for all of the major fossil fuel and nuclear power options are currently of similar magnitude, but fossil fuel plants have significant  health and environmental externality cost  and nuclear plants have questions about future decommissioning and radioactive waste cost plus proliferation and security issues. 

Energy is a major issue in Florida for the next decade . There are several reasons for this: 

(1)  Energy is a major economic factor in the Florida economy

(2)  Fla. is currently almost totally dependent on imported fuel if fossil fuels are used , which leaves the Fla. economy vulnerable and at risk. E missions from coal are causing widespread environmental and health problems through acid pollutants, mercury, and other toxic emissions. Moving to more alternative energy options can alleviate this problem.

(3)  Importing over $50 billion per year in fuel and energy is a major capital drain on the state economy (and  federal )   making us forever poorer.  Increased fertilizer imports and rapidly increasing world fertilizer prices, strongly impacted by rising fuel prices adds to this total. 

(4)  T here is scientific consensus that  global warming  is occurring.   The continued to increase. NOAA buoy monitoring sites off the U.S. coast have documented significant increases in  ocean surface temperatures  over the last 20 to 30 years. The average global temperature has been progressively increasing, with melting icecaps and glaciers , major vegetation and growing season impacts in northern areas, rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, increased droughts and decertification,  increased severity of storms,  insect borne diseases, water table draw down, crop losses, etc.  

(5) The largest source of atmospheric pollution such as mercury, toxic metals, acid rain, and some of the most serious water pollution in the state are from energy production and use -power plants and incinerators Food chain impacts  on fish, animals, and human health appear very serious already. 

(6)  The Federal Health Agency, Center for Disease Control, indicates that many thousands of  Fla. children  each year are having their health or learning ability significantly adversely affected by toxic metals . Based on blood tests, over 10% of women of childbearing age have levels of mercury high enough to cause developmental effects in infants. Preliminary results of nationwide hair test program found that over 20% of the women of childbearing age had dangerous levels of mercury, and over  30% in Florida .  A study by the  Mobile Register  of people who eat Gulf coast fish at least once per week found a significant percentage had dangerous levels of mercury and that almost 30% of the sample ate fish at least once per week.   Dangerous levels of mercury  resulting in fish consumption warnings have been found in the freshwater fish in over 50% of lakes and streams tested in all parts of the state have been documented to be serious problems made worse by acidity and acid pollutants; 27 species of saltwater fish and shellfish have been found to commonly have dangerous levels of mercury in Florida coastal waters.       Coal power plants and incinerators have been found to be the main source of the mercury, which studies in other areas have found to have contaminated over 100 thousand lakes in most states and Canadian provinces to levels requiring fish consumption bans or warnings. However  dental amalgam  (mercury) fillings have been found to be the largest source of mercury in sewers which are a significant source of mercury in water bodies and fish, as well as having significant air emissions from out-gassing from sewer sludge and from crematoria. 

Dangerous levels of  lead  in drinking water, soil, paint, etc. and  arsenic  from treated wood of decks and playgrounds and water fluoridation , as well as from shellfish have been documented to be significant sources affecting large numbers of people, especially children.   Mercury, dioxins, PCBs, PAHs, PDBEs, and pesticides are having catastrophic effects on  bird and animal populations  at the top of the food chain in Florida and elsewhere. Dioxins and PAHs appear similarly widespread like mercury in Florida and are even more toxic and carcinogenic. 

(7) Inefficient transportation systems and congestion are wasting large amounts of energy.  More efficient and effective mass transportation options, park and ride facilities, more availability of bicycle and walking facilities, energy efficient community design, and electric vehicles using more efficient and long-lasting battery options recently developed can make a big difference .

         These circumstances together mean that Fla. faces some serious issues for the 20 2 0s on energy related issues. However there are known options and methodologies that can go a long way toward alleviating all of these problems, while consensus is developed on alternative long-range options for Fla.( & U.S. & world) compatible with Florida's economic and environmental situation. 

Coal plants  are the number one source of mercury emissions in Florida and the U.S.  Scrubbers with activated carbon systems installed to control mercury, dioxins, etc. are the most effective method identified so far in reducing mercury emissions, but mercury taken out in ash remains a problem and much of it vaporizes out of the ash pile and creates a dangerous working environment.   Requirements on incinerator emissions have been successful at reducing extremely high mercury levels in South Florida where incinerators were the main mercury source for mercury in the everglades. However there are still significant toxic and acid pollutant emissions from coal plants and incinerators which are documented to be having significant consequences in Florida.  Currently the value of the  health  and environmental effects of incinerators still appear to far exceed the value of the benefits.  Major adverse health effects from coal plant emissions related to  mercury , other  toxic metals sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides , etc. have been documented to affect millions in the U.S.

Another type of incinerator that is currently getting a lot of attention is  biomass plants . Although they are being promoted and advertised as being a clean green source of power, this is not accurate and  biomass plants   can produce more pollution emissions than coal plants and are not carbon neutral as commonly advertised. 

Given the high and increasing prices for the fuels that Florida imports, there is a huge amount of proven, cost-effective technology improvements and energy efficiency measures in all sectors of the economy that are not being sufficiently pursued or encouraged by the political leadership. More attention needs to be given to  conservation  , cogeneration (combined heat and power) ( CHP ) ,  energy efficiency , highly efficient natural gas  heat pumps and chillers ,   fuel cells landfill and sewer gas  recovery, and  environmental or health effects  of energy choices in the near term; and other alternative energy options including offshore wind and ocean  wave power  and  river power  without dams , and turbines in water or sewer pipes .      Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy  keep our economic capital invested in local economies and reduce energy dependency, with economic multiplying effects.   

        Recycling metals, bottles, plastic, electronic equipment, manufacturing and construction waste,and organics also conserves both resources and large amounts of energy.  Florida has fallen behind many other states in recycling and resource conservation programs and initiatives.  Rooftop farming  is also a rapidly growing means for urban farming- adding efficiency benefits and a means of using process waste heat, hydroponics, and solar greenhouses. Green Energy Options current & emerging , 5 Home Renewable Energy Options You've Never Heard Of


In the near future Fla. needs to continue the process of developing a comprehensive state energy policy, which takes into account both long term economic and quality of life factors. We need to implement least cost utility planning that takes into account all effects and costs, like many other progressive or energy dependent states already have, where the adverse effects on environment, climate, and health are explicitly taken into account in energy decisions and choices. This would allow equal consideration of conservation, energy efficiency, cogeneration, natural gas, load sharing, alternative energy sources, and new power plants to satisfy future energy needs. Recently we seem to be moving in the opposite direction, and that is a dangerous path to take. 

Given the high and ever increasing fuel prices, there are a very wide range of proven cost effective conservation, energy efficiency measures, and renewable energy sources already known and used in other states that can make the Fla. economy more efficient and productive while saving money and lowering pollution. 

Proven solutions to most aspects of the world energy/atmospheric pollution crisis.

Emerging New Technologies that might help - A prioritized listing by the  New Energy Congress  of the leading energy technologies according to ten  criteria  including: renewable, environmentally safe, affordable, feasible, credible, reliable, developed, safe, etc.  

Sewer Gas and Landfill Gas Energy Recovery :  

Renewable Energy : Solar, Wind, Micro-Hydro   The U.S. has a   ( vast offshore wind energy resource ) . Our shores possess a power potential of more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW), nearly double the nation's current electricity use.

The National  Renewable Energy  Laboratory estimates that offshore wind power in U.S. coastal waters less than 100 deep could supply around 90,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. New England, the mid-Atlantic and the Great Lakes have the most potential. Offshore Wind Research ; Overview of Micro Hydro Power Systems  


Solar water heaters and solar pool heaters  are cost effective throughout most of Florida.  There have also been some promising breakthroughs recently in solar collectors, solar  photovoltaics , energy efficient and low polluting fuel cells, heat pipes, desiccant cooling systems, storage batteries, and vehicles powered by fuel cells, natural gas, methane, batteries charged by electricity or solar photovoltaics or hydrogen, etc.  Solar photovoltaicswith battery backup are cost effective in supply of electricity to locations isolated from the electric grid. 

Hydro Power and Wave/Tidal Energy

Hydro Power Directory  :   http://www.peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Hydro

Ocean Wave Energy Directory        https://peswiki.com/directory:ocean

Directory:Tidal Power - PESwiki.com

Run-of-the-river hydroelectricity - Energy Education. & Run of River Hydro - Alternative Energy Primer

The benefits of small run-of river-hydro power projects

Wave Power - EIA; & Oyster Wave Energy Device

2 New & Innovative Ocean Wave Energy Devices  -  ANSYS Inc  is a global trend setter of simulation software and technologies to assist in converting the persistent forces of ocean waves into electricity.  Green Ocean Energy Ltd , an Aberdeen based company, is developing mechanisms to harness energy from the Earth’s oceans, focusing on things such as the economic viability and sustainability of their products. ( Alt Energy News ; Oct. 5, 2009)

Directory: Wave Power   http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Ocean_Wave_Energy

Sea Dog Pump      www.inri.us/index.php/SEADOG


A new pump system designed to turn salt water into fresh water when combined with desalination systems -- and produce clean renewable energy when combined with hydroelectric systems. To create hydroelectricity, the SEADOG ocean-wave pump captures energy from ocean swells or waves to pump seawater to a land-based holding area or water tower, where the water can be returned to the ocean through hydroelectric turbines. 
In addition, because the device pumps water to a reservoir, it can store salt water or desalinated fresh water in the form of potential energy to generate power on demand, even if the current wave regime during a particular period is too low to generate power.  Some units have been tested and deployed in Texas and a project is currently under way off the coast of California.

Hydro Green kinetic energy projects  - ocean, tidal, river, spillway, power plant outlets Current Projects:   http://www.hgenergy.com/hydrogreenenergyprojects.html

they have several projects and contracts

Hydro Green Energy Hydrokinetic Technology Proves Fish Friendly 

Published: January 8, 2010  Houston, United States [HydroWorld.com] 

The first and only direct fish survival study performed on a hydrokinetic turbine shows that the technology is exceedingly safe for fish. 



this is just one such company; another company more active in Europe

Marine Current Turbines



Amory Lovins,  Rocky Mountain Institute ,   &   http://www.rmi.org/

Fuel Cells  and Hydrogen: Why they will play a big role   

New Way to Make Hydrogen Energy Out of Water Much More Cheaply

  Green buildings around the world: 18 examples of sustainable ...


Profitable Climate Protection  

Businesses Profit From Climate Protection | Climate ...


3 ways business can be profitable by addressing climate change


Energy Security     

Winning the Oil Endgame  How to Kick the Oil Habit   &  What ’’ s New ? RMI

The first and most cost effective step in energy independence is taking advantage of the huge amount of cost effective energy efficiency and conservation measures currently available, along with the huge amount of cost effective CHP applications .  However, t here is a large supply of natural gas in the U.S. and our neighboring trading partner Canada augmented by liquefied natural gas and new more difficult to collect natural gas and tar sand fuel reserves  which can be used for many years in modern, reliable, efficient, and clean burning combined cycle gas generating plants, cogeneration plants, fuel cells,  gas heat pumps, heating systems and chillers for commercial applications.  However the supply is not enough to meet ever increasing demand for more energy and prices are increasing so there is an urgent need to use  energy more efficiently.   As the future gas supplies become questionable or expensive, proven and cost effective coalbed methane is already available and new technologies for thin-film solar PV, wind, improved energy storage options are advancing rapidly. There is more energy available as methane hydrates than from all of the fossil sources combined; however there are environmental issues to be resolved if it is to be considered for use.  

Higher energy prices have made use of methane from old  landfills and sewer  facilities cost effective, but Florida is increasingly lagging behind in promotion and use of such measures that reduce pollution, global warming, capital outflow, etc. while saving money. The methane can also be used as an economic fuel for  vehicle fleets  (which require conversion but can be done economically for school bus fleets, Gov't fleets, etc.)  While Florida in general does not have much wind energy potential, the economics of wind energy on offshore platforms to take advantage of the day/night sea breeze patterns need to be considered. Likewise use of   energy is showing promise in test projects in other countries. 

Solar water heaters and solar pool heaters  are cost effective throughout most of Florida.  There have also been some promising breakthroughs recently in solar collectors, solar  photovoltaics concentrating solar  collectors, energy efficient and low polluting  fuel cells , heat pipes, desiccant cooling systems, storage batteries, and vehicles powered by fuel cells, natural gas, methane, batteries charged by electricity or solar photovoltaics or hydrogen, etc.  Solar photovoltaics with battery backup are cost effective in supply of electricity to locations isolated from the electric grid. 

Florida has both serious energy problems and many possible options to deal with the problems. The task is to develop consensus on policies and incentives which allow the most societally beneficent choices to be made by government policy makers, government agencies, utilities, and the public; while coordinating with and encouraging similar initiatives at the Federal and International levels. One option that has been documented to be a cost effective measure to save money, reduce fuel imports, reduce export of capital, reduce the need for new power plants, and reduce pollution emissions of most types is a measure to increase energy efficiency standards for appliances.  (See Energy Efficiency  links )


Other Sources of Information: 

Florida Public Service Commission Consumer Brochures

Annual Report on Activities Pursuant to the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act

Florida Energy Office – Dept. of Agric.

K-12 public schools can apply for energy education kits designed to develop teamwork and problem-solving abilities, investigate environmental issues and gain hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills

Energy Programs

Florida Alternative Fuel Resiliency Plan

Florida Counties Low-Income Residential Energy Efficient Grant Program


Florida Electric Vehicle Roadmap

Florida Energy Clearinghouse