FPL Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center  |  Case Study    

Hybrid Combined Cycle Natural Gas + Parabolic Trough Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Generation:  3,780 MW

  1. Florida Power & Light’s Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, with 75 MW of parabolic trough CSP, is the first hybrid combined cycle natural gas + concentrating solar power plant to be developed in the United States and is also the world’s largest such hybrid power plant.  At the time of it’s completion in 2010 it was also one of the world’s largest parabolic trough solar CSP plants.

  1. In addition to being the world’s first hybrid combined-cycle natural gas plus concentrating solar power plant, the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, with 75 MW of parabolic trough solar CSP capacity, was at the time of it’s commissioning one of the world’s larger solar CSP plants.  The hybrid renewable energy power plant includes a field of 190,000 parabolic mirrors that heat a synthetic oil thermal fluid to temperatures of 398C.  The superheated thermal fluid is run through a heat exchange system and used to generate steam to supplement the existing natural gas/ oil plant’s (4) combined-cycle steam turbine units. 

  2. Even prior the addition of the solar generation component, the 3,705 MW Martin County Power Plant was the United State’s largest fossil-fueled power plant.

  3. Because this 500 acre solar CSP project is a retrofitted addition to an existing fossil-fuel generation plant, there was no need to include purchase and installation of new turbines, costs of new high-voltage transmission lines, and other generation infrastructure in the scope of the solar CSP project.  Based on experience with this project, Florida Power & Light (FPL) has stated that the cost of integrating solar CSP into an existing power plant  is 20% less than the the cost of building a stand-alone solar CSP power plant.

  4. Although natural gas + solar CSP hybrid power plants are only renewable insofar as solar energy is a portion of the overall plant production, the plant does have significant environmental benefits.  Over the 30 years of planned operation it is anticipated that the solar facility will prevent the emission of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases.  It will decrease fossil-fuel usage by approximately 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 600,000 barrels of oil (saving FPL customers $178 Million in fuel costs over plant lifetime).  And, according to the U.S. EPA, this is the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road every year for the entire life of the project.

  5. Technology

  6. Conventional combined cycle natural gas power plants are the relatively low cost and low emissions fossil-fuel power plant of choice for today’s electrical utilities.  When combined cycle natural gas technology is paired with high pressure steam generated by a solar CSP field, plant efficiency and emission reductions are further maximized.   During the solar assisted phase of operation, waste heat from the gas turbine genset is used for preheating/ superheating along with solar steam generation for the steam turbine genset.  The addition of solar steam to the process allows the capacity of the steam turbine to be increased up to double the amount of a conventional combined cycle natural gas plant. 

  7. Parabolic trough concentrating solar power systems use trough shaped mirrors to focus sunlight on to an absorber tube/ receiver located at the mirror’s focal line.  The troughs are designed to track the sun along a north/ south axis.  The receiver tubes contain a heat transfer fluid, typically synthetic oil or molten salt, which is super heated by the sun.  This superheated thermal fluid is circulated through the receivers and pumped through a heat exchanger to produce steam for the steam turbine genset.  Parabolic trough technology is proven and widely used, although the live steam generation temperatures are lower than central tower receiver solar CSP plants. 

  8. Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems

  9. For more information on hybrid renewable energy systems, see:  Categorizing Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems.

  10. Project Development

  11. The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center is owned by the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), the largest electric utility in Florida and one of the largest rate-regulated utilities in the United States.  A clean energy leader, FPL has one of the lowest emissions profiles and one of the leading energy efficiency programs among utilities nationwide.  FPL solar energy projects include the 25 MW solar PV DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center and the 10 MW solar PV Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center.

  12. FPL is a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc., the United State’s largest generator of renewable energy from wind and solar resources.   The company owns 8,569 MW of wind generation capacity in (17) states and Canada, they operate the 354 MW Solar Electric Generating Station (SEGS) parabolic trough solar CSP plant in California, and they are a leading producer of hydropower in the Northeast with 81 units at 23 projects in Maine.

  13. Levelized Cost of Energy

  14.   In 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO2012) estimated that the best case scenario levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for a generic new commercial-scale thermosolar power plant would be $0.1827/kWh.  In a 2011 report from greentechmedia, “Concentrating Solar:  Ready for Take Off or Stalled on the Launchpad?”, which looked at solar CSP in more detail, parabolic trough CSP (wet-cooling, no storage) put the LCOE at $0.155/kWh.

  15. For more information on LCOE and how concentrating solar power generation and combined cycle natural gas generation costs match up, see:  Levelized Cost of Energy:  Renewable energy has achieved parity.

  16. Similar Projects

  17. There has been a steady stream of new hybrid natural gas + solar CSP power plants developed and built since the completion of the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in 2010.  Among the completed and commissioned facilities are Morocco’s Ain Beni Mathar ISCCS plant (30 MW solar CSP + 470 MW natural gas), Algeria’s Hassi R’Mel ISCCS plant (25 MW solar CSP + 125 MW natural gas), and Egypt’s Al Kuraymat ISCCS plant (20 MW solar CSP and 120 MW natural gas). 

  18. References

  19. NREL Concentrating Solar Power Projects:  Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center


  21. FPL:  Clean Energy for the Next Generation Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center


  23. NextEra Energy Sustainability report 2011


  25. New York Times:  The Newest Hybrid Model


  27. Wikipedia:  Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center



  1. Indiantown, Florida, United States

Project Status:

  1. Gas plant commissioned:  1970’s (expanded since)

  2. Solar CSP start of construction:  December 2008

  3. Solar CSP plant completion:  2010

Rated Capacity:

  1. Total:  3,780 MW

  2. Gas:  3,705 MW

  3. Solar CSP:  75 MW

Annual Production:

  1. Total:  TBD GWh per year

  2. Gas:  TBD GWh per year

  3. Solar CSP:  155 GWh per year

Capacity Factor:

  1. Gas:  % TBD

  2. Solar CSP:  26.3% (solar resource:  2,026 kWh/m2/yr)

Carbon Offset:

  1. 91,667 tons per year


  1. Florida Power & Light Company (parent company:  NextEra Energy)


  1. Florida Power & Light Company (parent company:  NextEra Energy)


  1. Gas Plant: 

  2. Solar CSP:  Lauren Engineers & Constructors (EPC)

Generation Offtaker:

  1. Florida Power & Light Company

Generation Technology:

  1. Gas:  (4) combined-cycle natural gas steam turbine generation units

  2. Solar CSP: Over 190,000 parabolic trough mirrors


  1. Gas Plant:  TBD

  2. Solar CSP:  $476.3 million (estimated LCOE: $0.16/ kWh over the lifetime of the facility)