Sparks flew when a group of science campers got to take the newest exhibit at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science on a “test drive” on March 27.
The fun was part of the official unveiling of a 25-kilowatt solar array and a new interactive solar education exhibit provided by FPL that lets museum guests race solar-powered slot cars around a custom electric race track. The exhibit also features monitors displaying the real-time energy production of the solar array, which does more than educate – the energy the panels produce is credited to the museum, saving them money on their energy costs.
“We are so grateful to FPL for this extraordinary partnership,” said Kim Cavendish, President and CEO of the Museum of Discovery and Science. “The new solar array will provide enough power to take care of our otter habitat each year. And while visitors will be attracted to the new exhibit to race the slot cars, they will be encouraged to think about how solar power can provide clean energy for a better future. It’s been a real pleasure to work with the members of the FPL team on this project.”
Following a ribbon cutting ceremony and slot car racing, kids baked s’mores in solar ovens with FPL representatives and museum staff for more hands-on solar education.
“This is a great opportunity promote energy education,” said Buck Martinez, FPL’s Senior Director of the Office of Clean Energy, who helped cut the ceremonial ribbon. “More than 400,000 people visit this landmark museum annually, and this exhibit is a great fit with their hands-on approach to learning.”
In addition to the Museum of Discovery and Science, solar panels and interactive exhibits will be installed at four other demonstration sites in 2013 to include the Brevard Zoo (Melbourne), Imaginarium Science Center (Fort Myers), Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone (Sarasota) and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. FPL is also installing more than 50 solar photovoltaic systems on public schools across the service territory in 2013 as part of a pilot program approved by the Florida Public Service Commission.
The commitment to solar energy goes beyond these programs. FPL operates three large-scale solar power plants in Florida. The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, located in Indiantown, Fla., was the world’s first hybrid solar energy center. It features innovative technology that connects a 75-megawatt array of solar thermal mirrors with a combined-cycle natural gas plant, allowing the power of the sun to reduce the use of fossil fuel. FPL also operates the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Brevard County, Fla., and the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County, Fla. At 25 megawatts, the DeSoto plant is one of the largest solar PV plants in the nation.
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