Want a glimpse of our community’s future?
We’ve got it! And it doesn’t require a time machine – just a trip to Apollo Beach. You might already be familiar with the area adjacent to our Big Bend power station, home to our ever-popular Manatee Viewing Center (MVC). But just a short walk from the manatees is our Clean Energy Center pavilion. Like the MVC, it’s open to the public and free to visit.
What’s a Clean Energy Center?
The success of our net-zero carbon-emission vision for 2050 will come in part from new and emerging technologies. The purpose of the Clean Energy Center is to showcase and study some of those technologies now.
Jordan Ekhlassi, a Tampa Electric engineer, oversees the interactive Clean Energy Center.
“Visitors are asking great questions and showing real interest in the exhibits,” he said. “One of the best things about the center is that as new technologies come into being, we’ll be able to update what we offer – so the experience will continue to be new over time.”
Kids (and adults!) can learn more about clean energy sources – and much more – with interactive, touch-screen games inside the open-air pavilion.
There are also several on-site technologies visitors to the Clean Energy Center can view as we study their viability in helping us achieve our net-zero vision:
SolarZone: Picnic tables with solar modules on top, SolarZone modules provide shade while generating power to charge mobile devices at the base of the SolarZone.
Parking Lot Solar Array: While generating clean energy in parking lots, these solar arrays can also offer shade for people waiting for the bus.
EV Car-Charging Station: Speedier charging is exactly what electric vehicle owners want – and this module only needs 30 minutes to charge your EV to 80 percent battery capacity.
Wind Turbine: The unusual design has a dual-axis vertical turbine with a wind shield to shape wind around the module for greater efficiency. It also automatically repositions itself for maximum wind exposure.
Integrated Flexible Solar Panels: Thin, lightweight and flexible, these panels may be mounted by adhesive to things like vehicles that can’t accommodate traditional solar panels.
Supercapacitor: These batteries store energy electrostatically on the surface of two metal plates. Since there is no chemical reaction they are expected to last much longer than chemical batteries – up to 25 years with little to no degradation. They don’t have the same fire risks as lithium ion batteries and have a wider temperature operating range. Supercapacitors may be the next top energy storage solution as the technology continues to mature and become cost effective.
Flow Battery: Using something called vanadium redox flow technology, these batteries store energy in a solution that never degrades, is non-flammable and is entirely self-contained. The flow battery requires minimal maintenance and can withstand much harsher conditions than lithium-ion batteries.
SmartFlower: By moving automatically to follow the sun throughout the day, the SmartFlower maximizes its power-generation potential. At night and in windy weather, the SmartFlower can even fold itself up into a protective state and then reopen in the morning.
The Clean Energy Center, like the Manatee Viewing Center, is a component of the Florida Conservation and Technology Center (FCTC), our amenity-rich campus we share with the Florida Aquarium, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida.
Come spend the day with us! There’s so much to see and do at FCTC, and it’s all interconnected with well-maintained trails that give an up-close peek at local flora, fauna, wildlife and some of the technologies that will help power the clean-energy future we all want to share.
Besides research, there’s interactive, educational fun at the Clean Energy Center