Florida State researchers to develop sustainable-energy research park

The Florida State University has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Birchwood Acres Limited Partnership, doing business as Harmony Development Company, and Starwood Energy Group Global LLC to locate Florida State’s Energy and Sustainability Center at the recently created Florida Energy Research Park located in the green certified development of Harmony, Florida. Harmony is located about 30 miles south of Orlando in Southeast Osceola County.

“We look forward to the development of a nationally recognized alternative energy center in the I-4 Corridor area,” said Florida State President T.K. Wetherell. “Centers of this nature require partnership with the local community and bring great benefits, both economically and socially, to the area.”

When complete, Harmony is intended to be a showcase for pioneering and innovative design in sustainable, green development philosophies. Plans call for the construction of 7,200 homes, 1 million gross square feet of light industrial space, and another 850,000 gross square feet of commercial/retail space. Florida State researchers, working through the university’s Sustainable Energy Science and Engineering Center (www.sesec.fsu.edu), will contribute to the community’s success by developing a research facility where sustainable-energy technologies can be tested in varying combinations.

“What this demonstration park is going to do is provide a testing ground for any kind of sustainable energy technology that people dream up,” said Kirby Kemper, Florida State’s vice president for Research. “Not only will the developers of Harmony be able to mix and match technologies such as solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass to find combinations that work best for their needs, but the state of Florida as a whole will benefit from any innovations that come out of the park.”

Kirby W. Kemper
Kirby W. Kemper

Another benefit will be the rare opportunity that Florida State students will have to receive hands-on training in the types of sustainable energy technologies that will transform our world over the coming decades.

“Based on the level of excitement of our students, I would envision about 30 to 40 Florida State students a year spending some time at the Harmony demonstration park, working on their undergraduate or graduate thesis research,” said Yulu Krothapalli, Florida State’s Don Fuqua Eminent Scholar Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Harmony project for the university.

“The Florida State University looks forward to a long and productive relationship with Harmony in the Orlando area,” Wetherell said.

For more about Harmony, visit the community’s Web site at www.harmonyfl.com.