New York is one of the most populous states in United States. With total number of people close to 20 million and still growing, its need for energy is constantly increasing. The state government is trying to address the issue by investing more into renewable energy sources, and decreasing its reliance on conventional power. The main growth areas are solar and wind and to a lesser degree hydro and biomass, the traditional renewable sources in the state. The plan is to produce 50% of New York electricity needs using renewable sources by 2030. Below are some key facts related to renewable penetration in New York.
New York is one of the top three states in solar adaptation in Northeast. Its current capacity is over 750MW, but the government wants to increase it four-fold to 3 GW by 2023. The solar penetration grew by 500 MW in the past two years alone, and that trend is set to increase further. The number of solar installations rose to 20,000 as of the end of 2016, after demonstrating exponential expansion in the past 5 years. We estimate that New York is on track to reach 30,000 installations by 2019 for a total project cost of $1.1 Bln.
Similar to solar, New York wind power has experienced an impressive growth in the last 5 years. Wind energy supply has reached 1.8 GW at the end of 2015 driven by large scale farms in upstate New York. While penetration is still a lot lower than in California, the local government is determined to triple it in the next decade. The projects worth of 200MW of on-shore and 2.4GW off-shore capacity were recently announced, and they seem to indicate the state’s firm commitment to growing wind power future.
Hydropower is the cheapest energy resource currently available with production cost of less than 1 cent per kWh – half the comparable cost of fossil fuels. New York is one of the largest suppliers of hydropower in north east with segment amounting to 18% of overall electricity production. The state has over 300 stations accounting for over 80% of all renewable energy. The first large-scale dam, St. Lawrence Power, capable of producing 8 GW of electricity was built half a century ago, and is still the major source of electricity serving local communities. The Robert Moses Niagara hydroelectric power plant is the largest dam providing over 10GW of electricity annually. Blenheim-Gilboa is a pumped storage facility that generates over 1.1 GW of electricity for New York City residents, and primarily serves to smooth the peak and off-peak energy demand.
The most prevalent biomass resource available in New York is wood. According to US Department of Agriculture the forest in the state occupies 19 million acres or 63% of the total land area. The above ground biomass amounts to 1.1 billion dry tons or 19 million per acre. That roughly equates to 2.7 million GW of stored capacity. On average, the total wood volume showed an average increase of 1% annually in the last decade, confirming the fact that the resource is indeed sustainable, and not facing a threat of depletion any time soon. Other than naturally grown forest resources, the state has adulterated resources like animal manure, landfill biomass capable of converting feedstock to eligible biogas, and source separated organic waste. As of January 2016 there were 27 active Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfills in New York State, accounting for over 200 million tons of capacity. As for animal manure, the state had 1.5 million cattle at end of 2015, capable of producing 200 MW of electricity. While organic waste collection program exists in a state, and the local government has ambitious plans to achieve a zero waste to landfills by 2030, it will require new infrastructure and slew of legislature measures to see the results. At this point the process is in early stages of adaptation and will take some time to see meaningful results.
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