October 2006

Director’s Message

Photo of James Fenton.
FSEC Director, James Fenton
Photo: Nick Waters

In preparing material recently for some proposals we are writing, I gathered some interesting information on the economic impact of renewable energy and energy efficiency on the people of Florida. 

I knew that these fields had a pretty strong impact on the state’s economy, but until I saw some of the numbers we collected, I really did not appreciate the tremendous impact that we are making today and the even more dramatic effects we can have in the future.

FSEC is proud to be a part of these fields, working with industry, policy makers and others to help educate the people of Florida about the available products and strategies, research new technologies for use today and in the future, and help stimulate the development of industries, businesses and jobs to stimulate our economy.

There is no doubt that the future of Florida’s economy, environment and security is closely intertwined with our energy use decisions.  Our rapidly growing population requires an equally rapid expansion of an energy industry to meet the needs of our residents as well as to fuel the tourism and agriculture needs that dominate our state’s economy. For the future of our state’s economy, our citizen’s needs, our environment and our security, it is essential that we develop renewable energy sources right here at home.

Expanded use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in our homes and businesses will lead to energy independence for Florida, creating industries and jobs, a strengthened economy, the development of commercially promising technologies and make our homes and businesses more energy-efficient and sustainable.

There may not be an issue facing Floridians that has more societal impact or more economic ramifications while causing such a high level of immediate concern than energy.  Energy is clearly one of the key issues – if not THE key issue -- facing our state and our nation – how to produce it, how to best use it, how to make it available, how to make affordable and how to develop the new technologies needed to meet these key issues.

Over the years, FSEC has worked with a number of capital start-up companies, and looking at the many successes in this area really impressed me with all that we have done.  Our work with start-up companies includes:

  • OPTM (Off Peak Thermal Management), by OPTM – manufacturers of unique concrete wall block for construction that consist of massive walls with insulation on the outside. 
  • NOMAD, by NOMAD, Inc. – manufacturers of a thermal Rankine cycle water pump with solar panels as the heat source.
  • WPS by Advanced Water Engineering Company – manufacturers of a water purification system for pre-treating water before a hot water tank to enhance heat transfer and save energy.
  • Ideal-TWH by Ideal Tankless Water Heater Corp. – designers of a tankless water heater with enhanced heat exchange for energy savings.
  • Motordyne and Energy Buster by Condyne Technology, Inc.-- designers and manufacturers of an electric power-conditioning device for soft start and energy savings of induction motors.
  • Cond-ex by Refrigeration Technology, Inc. -- designers and manufacturers of a refrigeration condensing sub-cooler as an add-on to air conditioning systems to improve performance and save energy.
  • Actec by Advanced Cooling Technology, Inc. -- designers and manufacturers of a water sprayed sub-cooler as an add-on to air conditioning systems to improve performance and save energy.
  • Power Mizer by Miracle Products, Inc. – designers of a power-conditioning device for incandescent bulbs to save energy.
  • LPA by HY-Save -- designers and manufacturers of a liquid refrigerant pump to improve expansion valve operation and save energy on air conditioning systems.
  • Adsil, by Adsil, Inc. -- developers and producers of a silica based spray-on coating to inhibit corrosion.
cars on freeway
Vehicles on state roads consume 8.1 billion gallons of gasoline and 1.4 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year.
Photo: Jupiterimages

One area that is especially affected economically by our technologies is transportation.  Energy use by motor vehicles in Florida is staggering.  The more than 8.4 million automobiles, 6.6 million trucks, and 47,000 buses on the state roads consume 8.1 billion gallons of gasoline and 1.4 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year. At $3 per gallon, this means that Florida exports $28 billion per year just for motor fuels since all of these industries are external to Florida. These numbers will grow in the future to an export value estimated at $40 billion per year by 2016.

The future will eventually operate on a non-fossil based fuel -- and that fuel may very well be renewable-derived hydrogen, which then has the potential to be produced locally.  Thus, in the future, development of hydrogen, fuel cells and other advanced technologies can offer a potential new industry of $40 billion just in the transportation field.

Electric power generation presents another important consideration.  Electric utilities have advised Florida’s PSC and 2020 Study Commission that 10,000 to 20,000 MW of new electric generating capacity will be required to serve the state’s growing needs by 2020.  At the moment, the fuel of choice is natural gas. Many utility managers do not believe natural gas resources are adequate to supply required quantities of fuel, and to supply it at a competitive price.  In the last three years, natural gas prices have risen from $3/MBtu to more than $10/MBtu, and now are at approximately $7/MBtu.  For this reason, plans are also being developed for power producers to import and burn coal and other heavy-fuels to generate electricity at many of the proposed new units.  Whether natural gas or coal, all the generating plants will produce local air pollution (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and particulates) and huge quantities of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane).  In addition, they will all be located in populated areas adding to air quality concerns and placing significantly limited options for the design and placement of these units.  The work that we and the others involved in developing renewable energy and energy efficiency are doing will have a tremendous impact in the coming years.

These fields also offer significant potential for job creation and workforce development.  The future energy industries are going to be high technology since major research and development challenges remain to be resolved.  Using high technology data from the 2004-2009 Strategic Plan for Economic Development, 2006 Annual Report, statistics were obtained for Florida’s high-tech industry.  To obtain economic data for the Orlando-East Space Coast area, the data was modified by the region’s population to Florida’s population using a ratio of 0.17.  This gives the following economic data for the Orlando-Space Coast area:




High Technology Jobs



High Tech Average Wage



High Technology Payroll

$278 million

$346 million

New High Technology Industries



Since the above is for all high-tech industries, the assumption was made that PV, hydrogen and fuel cells could impact 25 percent.  This gives a new industry in five years of 1,500 jobs at $73,300 per job for a total annual payroll of $110 million.  The total industry potential would be five times the payroll or $550 million.

Continued economic growth, jobs and prosperity are goals of all local, state and federal leaders.  Economic studies have shown Florida to be losing ground over time with regard to its average annual wage as compared to the U.S. average.  This disturbing factor is due to our high reliance on the service industry for jobs and growth.  Tourism jobs have an average wage of $25,000 per year as compared with high technology at $58,900 per year.  Although service is a major contributor to Florida industry and must not be neglected, the over-reliance on services needs to be tempered with a planned effort for high technology and high value development.  PV, hydrogen and fuel cell industries provide a natural high technology niche for Florida’s future.

The key to Florida’s continuing economic enhancement is the success of high-technology development.  The key to high-technology development is the requirement for a concentration of companies and a strong research, education and technology resource base.  At FSEC, I’m proud that we’re working on technologies that can play a significant role in helping boost our state’s economy.


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