Florida Energy Problems, Options, and Suggested Solutions

        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 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.  Many experts expect some solar PV and concentrator options to be more cost effective than traditional fossil fuel and nuclear options within 5 years, since technology is advancing rapidly and production costs are declining rapidly.  Based on current experience and projections of CdTe and CIGS thin film companies, solar panel production costs are expected to be in the 50 cents per watt range by 2014.  The panel production cost of the lowest cost companies such as First Solar is currently less than $1 per watt, with a total installed cost of a little over $2 per watt.


        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, which leaves the Fla. economy vulnerable and at risk. The significance of this is increased since U.S. oil reserves are rapidly declining; this is a major factor in the record U.S. trade deficit that is responsible for exporting our capital and reducing U.S. wealth; and emissions from coal are causing widespread environmental and health problems through acid pollutants, mercury, and other toxic emissions. At current production and consumption rates, proven U.S. oil reserves would be greatly depleted in 10 years. Both the U.S. and Florida are importing a higher percent of oil than ever before.

(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) There is scientific consensus that global warming is occurring and that the ozone layer is declining over the U.S.  The 1990 s was the warmest decade in recorded history prior to the current decade, and most of the warmest years in history were all since 1980. 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, 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.  Due to the declining ozone layer, exposure to ultraviolet radiation is increasing with increased skin cancers and other immune conditions. These could have

immense impacts on Florida’s coastal areas and tourist industries.

(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. 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, 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.  EcoloCap claims its battery technology more than 98% efficient - The Nano Lithium X Battery by EcoloCap offers over 98 percent efficiency and has "the world’s highest energy density output per mass". The battery was also found to have the "fastest recharge time of any comparable commercial battery" together with the "lowest cost per energy output". (GizMag; March 24, 2010)
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        These circumstances together mean that Fla. faces some serious issues for the 2000s 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 during the previous federal Administration 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 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.     Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy keep our economic capital invested in local economies and reduce energy dependency, with economic multiplying effects.   A new report explores the magnitude of the efficiency and renewable resources that are available to the state, and suggests some specific policies that could be implemented to reduce future energy demands. If all the policies recommended were implemented, the state could reduce its projected future use of electricity from conventional sources (i.e., natural gas, coal, oil, and nuclear fuels) by about 29% in the next 15 years. Energy efficiency accounts for about two-thirds of the 2023 total 102,513 million kWh electricity reductions, with the renewable energy provisions accounting for the balance. 

        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.

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.

Top 100 Energy Technologies - 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:  www.flcv.com/sewerlf.html

Renewable Energy: Solar, Wind, Micro-Hydro 

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.



GE’s Gigantic Offshore Wind Turbine is 25% More Efficient - Rather than increasing the size to generate more power, GE is designing longer blades and a more efficient drive train. Investing $453 million in order to mass produce these next gen 4 MW turbines which will be 300 feet tall and have a rotor diameter of 360 feet, GE hopes to release them in 2012 for offshore use in Europe. (Inhabitat; March 30, 2010)

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 photovoltaics with 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:      http://www.peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Ocean

Tidal Power Directory:   http://www.peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Tidal_Power

Run of River Hydro Companies and Projects:  http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:River_Energy#Companies

World’s Largest Working  Hydro-Electric Wave Energy Device Launched

Known as Oyster, the device has been officially launched by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond MP, MSP at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.  It is currently one of the world's few hydro-electric wave energy device producing power and is now producing power by pumping high pressure water to its onshore hydro-electric turbine. This will be fed into the National Grid to power homes in Orkney and beyond. A farm of 20 Oysters would provide enough energy to power 9,000 three bedroom family homes.

Oregon gets first U.S. wave-power farm   Feb 2010

Construction has begun off Oregon's coast on the first commercial U.S. wave-energy farm, planned to supply power to about 400 homes.   The first buoy will measure 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide, weigh 200 tons and cost $4 million,  according to Phil Pellegrino, spokesman for New Jersey-based developer Ocean Power Technologies, which is developing the project. He says in the story that nine more buoys are planned to deploy at a site in Reedsport, Ore., by 2012, at a total cost of $60 million.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/02/oregon-gets-first-us-wave-power-farm/1    &  http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/reedsport.htm

In December 2009, Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. deployed one of its PowerBuoys® at the US Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) at Kaneohe Bay. The Oahu PowerBuoy was launched under the Company's ongoing program with the US Navy for ocean testing and demonstration of PowerBuoys. This PowerBuoy is unique in that it incorporates advanced design features into OPT’s proprietary PowerBuoy platform for improved efficiency. The sea trials have produced power in accordance with the system’s specifications for local wave conditions.   http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/projects.htm

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

 Home page: http://www.hgenergy.com/


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



 Verdant Power

East River Project   http://www.verdantpower.com/rite-project-retrofit/


 Free Flow Power



The Massachusetts-based startup has a $3 billion plan to place thousands of small electric turbines down the Mississippi river — from St. Louis to New Orleans — which could generate over a gigawatt of electricity. The startup reportedly has preliminary three-year permits to study 59 sites in the Mississippi, granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.


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

Fuel Cells and Hydrogen: Why they will play a big role  http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid304.php

Hydrogen from Water breakthrough:   Berkeley Scientists Discover Inexpensive Metal Catalyst for Generating Hydrogen from Water



Sewer Gas and Landfill Gas Energy Recovery:  http://www.flcv.com/sewerlf.html


Renewable Energy: Solar, Wind, Micro-Hydro 


Water Policy Solutions        

Green Buildings   &

Profitable Climate Protection 

Energy Security   

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


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, there 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:

Energy Conservation   www.floridapsc.com/general/publications/aug02jaber.pdf

Water Conservation      www.floridapsc.com/general/publications/sept02jaber.pdf

Florida Energy Patterns and Energy Efficiency Benefits:


Link for more technical  information: www.flcv.com/indexat.html


The Road to a New Energy Future 10/26/2006       Executive Summary


Potential for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to Meet Florida's Growing Energy Demand, R. Neal Elliott, Maggie Eldridge, Anna Shipley, John "Skip" Laitner, and Steven Nadel, ACEEE , Philip Fairey, Robin Vieira, and Jeff Sonne, Florida Solar Energy Center,  Alison Silverstein, Independent Consultant and Bruce Hedman and Ken Darrow, Energy and Environmental Analysis, Inc. June 2007