Florida’s cleaner electricity from high efficiency power plant preserves fossil fuel addiction

Florida Power and Light (FPL) is taking delivery of the third of three Siemens ultra-high-efficiency natural gas turbines for FPL’s Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center. The Siemens SGT6-8000H gas turbines and Siemens SST6-5000 steam turbine at the site are the core of FPL’s modernization of the Clean Energy Center.  They are expected to cut fossil fuel use by 1/3rd, delivering over $400 million in fuel savings over the 30 year life-cycle of the turbines.  Oh, and reduced fuel consumption, due to higher efficiency, means the plants emit less greenhouse gasses.

All that’s fine and dandy, and FPL should reap both economic and ecological rewards from doing this.  I would probably have ignored the press release about this, except that we can use it to explore the “stone age energy paradigm” idea I’ve written about recently on LongTailPipe.
The Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center is near Ft. Lauderdale.  Earlier this year, FPL demolished a 1960’s era oil-fired power plant and are currently building a new power plant around these high efficiency turbines from Siemens.  The new plant is slated to go into operation in 2016.
That FPL is replacing an oil-fired power plant with an ultra-modern one running on natural gas is an improvement.  As FPL says on their website, benefits include increased energy independence (less dependence on foreign fossil fuels – oil imported from elsewhere) and decreases in negative environmental impact from FPL’s electricity generation.
At the same time this continues the pattern of electricity – an inherently clean form of energy, and representing the new energy paradigm – being generated by burning fossil fuels – an inherently unclean form of energy, and representing the stone age energy paradigm.
Electricity is inherently clean.  But, that cleanliness is undermined by the fuel source for the electricity.  Natural gas is a fossil fuel and therefore increases carbon footprint in the atmosphere.  Increasingly, natural gas requires fracking.  That’s something to think about as the refrigerator hums away in the background.  You don’t see it, but there’s a smokestack off in the distance billowing greenhouse gasses to ensure the fridge stays cold.
Burning fossil fuels is like drinking poison.  With this new high efficiency power plant, FPL is saying “we’re drinking less poison than before, and it’s American poison rather than foreign poison”.  We’re still drinking poison.
One would think the Sunshine State (Florida) would be a great place to install solar panels.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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