Just driving around Palm Beach County, you can actually see solar energy.
Florida Power and Light, or FPL, has been installing solar trees and solar canopies around the county.
Because these trees and canopies are visual, they’re a great way to teach kids about clean energy.
Becoming the Global Leader in Solar Energy
The Sunshine State is really living up to its name, as Florida is in the midst of the largest solar expansion in its history.
It is in the process of becoming the global leader in solar energy, thanks to FPLs “30-by-30” plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030!
The goal is to inspire adults and children to learn about the importance of clean energy while being exposed to solar energy at popular tourism destinations.
As Florida leads the country in new solar jobs, children of today who go see these solar trees and canopies could one day be working in the industry themselves.
What are Solar Trees and Solar Canopies?
Solar trees are aesthetic structures that look like actual trees, that feed clean energy to the community.
Some of them can even charge your cell phone or laptop. (As someone who works remotely, I love this!)
Solar canopies provide shaded parking, which is helpful for keeping visitors’ cars cool during hot days.
What Makes Solar Energy Green?
Besides providing shade, solar trees and solar canopies also act as an alternative to rooftop solar panels if a roof can’t host solar panels or if a property’s electricity needs are too large for a rooftop solar system.
Some solar parking lots also include electric car charging stations so that drivers of electric vehicles can recharge with solar power while parked.
When you install a solar energy system, electric bills are reduced, rising energy costs are protected, and your impact on the environment is reduced.
According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, pavement makes up 35 to 50 percent of total surface area in cities and 40 percent of that pavement is parking lots.
Installing a solar canopy over an existing parking lot is simply a more efficient use of space because when you build a solar canopy, you add more uses to the same square footage and don’t have to set aside additional space.
Running your car’s air conditioning, as we do daily here, is the main cause of reduced fuel economy in Florida’s hot weather.
Under very hot conditions using the a/c can reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25 percent.
By keeping cars cool on hot days, solar parking lots reduce the need for heavy air conditioning use.
Unlike on your roof, solar trees or solar canopies can be oriented so they produce as much electricity as possible, which means maximum savings.
Where can I Find Solar Trees and Solar Canopies?
Solar fields are typically located in remote locations, but FPL has 18 solar farms already built, and the company is currently building 10 more.
They are located in places that people might find inaccessible.
For example, the Hibiscus Solar Energy Center is under construction in Palm Beach County and the Sweetbay Solar Energy Center is under construction in Martin County.
However, there are places where families can go see solar panels for themselves.
Here are locations where you can find solar trees and canopies throughout South Florida:
Palm Beach County:
- Manatee Lagoon, an FPL Eco-Discovery Center in Riviera Beach
- Howard Park in West Palm Beach
- South Florida Science Center & Aquarium in West Palm Beach
- Brightline station in West Palm Beach
- Barracuda Bay Aquatic Complex in Riviera Beach
- Palm Beach Gardens Aquatics Complex
- Barrier-Free Park in Boynton Beach
- Oceanfront Park in Boynton Beach
- Joseph Russo Athletic Complex in Palm Beach Gardens
- Palm Beach Zoo
St. Lucie County:
For more information, visit http://SolarNow.FPL.com.