Florida has the world´s first solar-powered town

To inhabit a 100% sustainable city, free of polluting emissions, organic and functional through solar energy, sounds like an ecological utopia or the scenario of a science fiction movie. However, this idea could be possible thanks to the initiative of a former football player, who aims to build a city in Florida to be the first one to works entirely with solar energy.

The idea had been brewing for a decade in the head of former NFL player, Syd Kitson, and it has already begun to become a reality, welcoming the first inhabitants who will join the project to be part of the environmental experiment. Babcock Ranch is the town´s name, located three hours away from Miami and which will have 343,000 solar panels, to provide power to residential, public and transportation systems in the city. 

Babcock Ranch has the size of Manhattan and could house up to 50,000 people. The solar loaves that will feed the city are located on an area equivalent to 200 soccer fields and generate 75 megawatts of energy. The amount is enough to run the city without the need of conventional fuel and energy.

For his environmentalist dream, Kitson has been criticized and admired. Many have called him crazy for trying to carry out his creation. Other conservationists differ with the initiative, arguing that the lifting of a new city, even if it is to be sustainable, means the destruction of the few green and protected grasslands that are left. 

Nevertheless, Kitson explains that "every day 1,000 people move to Florida and new homes need to be built, the challenge is to do it with a mixture of development and environmental preservation", says the ex-sportsman to BBC.

Babcock Ranch expects the first families to start moving in during January 2018, to make part of an initiative that is positioning as a role model to follow worldwide.

2017, a year of growth in solar energy

According to the annual report presented by the International Energy Agency, in 2017 the photovoltaic solar energy capacity grew faster than other energy sources in the world. It reached two thirds of the new net capacity, that corresponds to clean energy. China, India, and USA lead this energy revolution which aims to increase by 43% over the next 4 years.

Although Latin America is not yet among the list of leading solar energy regions, it is taking steps in this area. Chile is the country with the largest photovoltaic installations in the region, which represents more than three quarters of the total solar energy in Latin America. 

Argentina has a village that is 100% solar powered, this initiative has managed to break the apathy of the southern country in terms of renewable energy. It is expected that in a couple of years, 8% of the total energy of the nation will come from renewable sources.

Mexico also has one of the largest solar plants in Latin America. Since September 2013, the so-called 'Aura Solar I' converts the sun's rays into alternating current, generating clean energy to feed millions of Mexicans.

Back to Babcock Ranch in Florida, the initiative promotes the instauration and use of removable energies. Furthermore, the project seeks to support, enhance, and implement social and environmental initiatives in vulnerable child population.

LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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