Solar Energy could provide a significant fraction of New York’s electricity generation requirements and, in concert with other generation sources, provide more reliable power. Aggressive state programs such as the California Solar Initiative as well as federal tax credits have stimulated renewed growth of the U.S. solar industry. Now the focus is on New York.
Earlier this month, the Solar Initiative of New York (SINY) released the New York State Solar Roadmap to raise awareness of the role of photovoltaics (PV) in New York, and provide a reference document to all stakeholders of the industry. The roadmap identifies the state’s specific needs and recommends innovative solutions to meet the future challenges related to the solar industry.
Its objective is to enable all industry, university and government participants to plan ahead—based on known and anticipated trends—as they put in place substantial investments, consortia and commercial cooperative ventures.
New York, like the rest of the country, faces rising energy costs, increasingly pressing environmental concerns and stiff economic competition. It is necessary to identify ways to meet our growing energy needs with clean, renewable sources and in so doing create new jobs and new business opportunities in the state. New York State recently announced plans to promote clean, renewable energy, and reduce New York’s electricity consumption by 15 percent by 2015 to reduce energy bills, address global climate change and create new jobs. Based on New York’s resources and needs, solar electric power should be an integral part of the solution.
Solar energy offers New York the promise of increased energy security, a cleaner environment, and significant economic benefits. New York, long a leader in the semiconductor industry, could become a regional leader in this new surging industry. According to the national solar roadmap, each megawatt of installed systems supports 32 jobs, a quarter of which are local installation and sales positions. By building a solar power manufacturing industry and expanding its demonstrated research and development capabilities in the state, most of these jobs can be created in New York State.
Solar power is particularly valuable in reducing stress on New York’s electric grid and lowering the risk of major blackouts. Therefore, it is ideally suited for New York’s renewable energy portfolio. This semiconductor based technology converts sunlight directly into electricity, with no moving parts, consuming no fuel, and creating no pollution. It is a distributed energy resource that can be deployed throughout the state, improve grid reliability, lower distribution and transmission costs, and be sited at the point of use with minimal or no environmental impact.
Similar to much of the United States, New York has ample solar resources and more sunshine annually than does Germany, which has installed nearly 3 GW of systems to date. In addition, peak power demand in New York occurs during the same time periods when the greatest sunlight is available (hot, sunny, summer afternoons).
The environment, economy, and energy consumers in New York State could all benefit substantially from a unique and unprecedented alignment of electricity supply, economic development, and high-tech-based manufacturing objectives through a new industry-led initiative to expand the manufacturing and deployment of solar power systems in New York. A private sector industry initiative launched earlier this year by R&D, manufacturing, and industry leaders in New York State has developed the strategic goal to:
Increase solar power deployment in New York State from a current cumulative total of about 12 MW of grid-connected electricity as of January 2007 to over 2,000 MW by 2017.
As New York’s energy needs continue to grow, its obligations to respond to the challenge of global climate change grow as well. According to the Clean Energy Estimator, 2,000 MW of solar electricity in New York State would improve air quality and reduce global warming emissions by removing about 2 million tons of CO2, 1,800 tons of NOx and 5,300 tons of SO2 annually by 2017.
A solar program modeled on best practices would maintain and expand New York’s role as a clean energy leader and bring many environmental, employment, and economic development benefits. Such a program would make it easier for systems to connect to the grid and capture the value of energy they generate; establish a long-term program of incentives for residential and commercial owners that encourage installing and deploying solar power; promote an appropriate combination of private and public investments in manufacturing, infrastructure, and development to position New York to meet its sustainable demand for systems from within the state, and support the creation of technology clusters to advance the performance of solar systems and reduce cost.
New York can become a leading magnet for this industry, resulting in new manufacturing capacity, increased jobs, additional revenue, and 2,000 MW of clean, renewable, reliable solar power by the end of 2017. 3,000 direct installation or maintenance jobs and over 10,000 highly skilled manufacturing and integration jobs could be created over a period of ten years.