About the Author: Richard Simmons is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs.
It's August 27, and we are en route from the USDA Agricultural Research Service Sugarcane Field Station in Canal Point, Florida, to the Florida Crystals Cogeneration Facility in Okeelanta, along with officials from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and El Salvador. This visit is part of a Renewable Energy Meeting in South Florida, hosted by the Department of State and the Organization of American States, and part of the U.S.-Brazil Bilateral Memorandum of Understanding to Advance Cooperation on Biofuels. The arrangement makes possible the exchange of experiences between the U.S. and Brazil on sustainable biofuels and enables the exchange of information to several third-party countries in Central America and the Caribbean that have unique opportunities for the development and local use of biofuels.
Earlier, we had an excellent visit to the Florida Power and Light Plant, where the local team, led by Director John Gnecco, has begun the commissioning phase of the concentrated solar power (CSP) facility. Concentrated solar power uses specialized parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight on tubes conveying media that transfers heat. This fluid is raised to a temperature in excess of 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and used to create steam for power generation. The group I toured the facility with was extremely interested in Florida's renewable energy legislation, which uses innovative ways to encourage private sector investment. The United States benefits from harnessing the abundant Florida sunshine, and all of us -- including our Brazilian, Central American, and Caribbean friends -- benefit from seeing renewable energy in action.
You can read more about the Renewable Energy Meeting here.