Here Comes the Sun—NYC Sets Climate Week Solar, Storage Goal
Climate Week in New York City this week has offered governments, businesses, and advocates an opportunity to showcase their efforts and best ideas on climate and clean energy. Today, it’s the City itself that does a star turn. The Big Apple is already a global leader among those cities concerned with fighting climate change and is the largest metropolis in the world to pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050—the amount scientists say we must cut to avoid climate change’s worst impacts. So, like the countries that this week in New York pledged to sign onto the Paris Climate Agreement, and the businesses that vowed to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy, New York today offered a few important pledges of its own.
To begin with, Mayor de Blasio set a new target for solar deployment in NYC: 1,000 megawatts of photovoltaics by 2030, enough to power a quarter-million New York City homes. With its complex building regulations and deep, shoulder-to-shoulder density, New York hasn’t always been the easiest place to install solar. But now, thanks in large part to de Blasio administration efforts to address those barriers by relieving hold-ups in the permitting process and sending signals to industry players that New York City is open for solar business, the Big Apple is on track to meet its 2025 target of 350 megawatts on public and private buildings and has decided to go big.
That effort is already underway. Since the de Blasio Administration took office in January 2014, in fact, installations have quadrupled, with 3,000 of them slated for permitting in this year alone. They’ll join existing arrays, like those installed on public buildings, including City Hall,, and on private property as well, including the whopping 4,760-panel solar array atop Bronx grocery wholesaler Jetro Cash and Carry, and the 214-kilowatt array on East New York’s Gateway Elton affordable housing complex. To further deploy the clean power technology, cut pollution, and to add to the 2,700 solar jobs now located here in NYC, the de Blasio administration intends to continue streamlining the permitting process, send important market signals, ramp up programs to encourage collective solar purchasing, which can lower solar prices by 10-20 percent, and promote shared solar arrays that can help renters and others without roof access subscribe to local, offsite arrays. (To find out more about how you, your business, or community institution can get involved in these efforts, visit the NYC Solar Partnership online.)
The other big New York City Climate Week news is that our Big Apple has become the first major American city, and perhaps the first American city of any size, to develop an energy storage target, with the goal of developing 100 megawatt hours of energy storage by 2020. This isn’t entirely new territory for the City. Its Department of Citywide Administrative Services currently has several storage projects in the works, as does Con Edison, New York City’s major electric utility. But establishing this new target will help the City send an important signal to the energy storage industry and work with experts to figure out how best to deploy storage here in ways that can extend solar’s power when the sun isn’t shining and improve reliability and resiliency in the event of power outages.
New York City is already a global leader on climate and, now, as it has in the past, it is setting new and nation-leading goals, to be sure. But it’s doing more than that. It’s creating new models that cities around the country and around the world will want to follow.