NextEra Energy Inc. of Florida, which is currently one of the largest solar and wind utilities, plans to convert 16 GW of its more than 20 GW natural gas electrical generation fleet to run on green hydrogen as it continues to march toward carbon neutrality.
The utility’s primary subsidiary, Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL), recently brought a 1.2 GW natural gas-fired power plant online, according to management comments made during its 2Q2022 conference call.
The $900 million project was completed on schedule and within budget, according to the CFO, Kirk Crews. The Dania Beach Clean Energy Center is estimated to deliver almost $350 million in net cost savings for FPL consumers, while reducing carbon emissions by approximately 70% compared to the Lauderdale Plant.
As FPL aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, the company plans to convert around 16 gigawatts of its highly efficient gas fleet to run on green hydrogen, according to Crews.
According to NextEra Energy’s Zero Carbon Blueprint, FPL would initiate the conversion of certain natural gas units to 16 GW of solar-generated hydrogen in the early 2040s. According to FPL’s Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan, the utility has over 20 GW of natural gas-fired power in its portfolio.
According to the company’s 10-year plan, the utility expects to conduct a pilot project in late 2023 to evaluate the replacement of a part of the natural gas used to fuel the Okeechobee combined cycle unit with hydrogen.
The plan also calls for FPL to incorporate up to 6 GW of renewable natural gas, which would replace fossil fuels by 2045 and account for less than 1% of the utility’s generation capacity.
The utility also submitted its most recent Storm Protection Plan, which outlines the “billions of dollars in capital investments planned over the next decade to continue hardening FPL’s energy grid for the benefit of customers,” as stated by Crews.
The revised hardening programs, some of which have been in development for approximately 15 years, would provide FPL’s 5.8 million customers with speedier restoration timeframes and increased resilience after severe weather strikes FPL’s service zone.
In addition, Crews stated that because Florida’s three-month moving average for new home permits grew by over 9 percent year over year, “FPL’s new service accounts increased by more than 15 percent year over year. The average number of FPL customers climbed by more than 87,000, or 1.5 percent, compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
Following the state’s population expansion, the utility’s retail sales in the second quarter of 2022 climbed by 3.2% annually.
In the second quarter of 2022, FPL recorded a net income of $989 million (5 cents per share), compared to $882 million (45 cents) in the second quarter of the prior year.
Crews stated that NextEra Energy retains its stance on the “strong market demand for renewables, particularly in light of the environment of high gas and electricity pricing, which we expect will stay in the future.”
Crews stated that renewable energy is not just the most cost-effective source of energy generation, but also deflationary and countercyclical.