As amazing as it may sound, with a concerted effort, the entire state of New York could be powered by renewable energy sources by the beginning of 2030. New York has been a leader on the renewable energy front since 2004, when then Gov. Pataki issued the first green initiative. Since then, there have been hundreds of solar power projects, including 76 new solar photovoltaic projects totaling 52 megawatts of new solar power that has just been authorized as of March, 2013. This $46 million-dollar investment in solar power is added to the 242 megawatts already in place. Just in terms of solar power, New York State is 10th in the entire nation. According to the Solar Energy industries Association, “The program will quadruple the amount of customer-sited solar photovoltaic capacity added between 2011 and 2013. In this year’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo committed to extending the NY-Sun Initiative through 2023.”
With considerable investment in wind power and hydroelectric systems in both the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers, New York produces as much renewable energy as the entire rest of the northeastern states combines. Of course, these growths are not without their growing pains. The New York Power Authority scrapped a plan to put up to 150 turbines offshore between Buffalo and Chautauqua County, in 2010, due to excessive costs. The authority is currently working with a new set of downstate power providers to explore wind turbines off the shore of Long Island. This is a particularly promising project that could, if approved, add another 100 megawatts by the end of 2015.
In 2004, New York only had 48 megawatts of wind capacity. With the initiatives put in place by Gov. Pataki and continued under Gov. Cuomo, this has expanded to over 1,600 megawatts, including a large-scale development on the Tug Hill Plateau east of Lake Ontario.
So, who are these crazy people that claim New York could be fully off fossil fuels by the beginning of 2013? Some optimistic democratic pundits? Members of the solar platform? Alternative energy gurus? Nope. None of the above. These finding come to us from two of the most prestigious universities in the United States, Stanford and Cornell. A co-author of the study, Robert Howarth, a Cornell professor of ecology and environmental biology said, “It’s way outside of the realm of what most people are talking about … But I think people have been too pessimistic about what can be done.”
The university researchers believe that half of New York’s renewable energy in 2030 could come from 12,700 off-shore turbines situated off Long Island. Yes, it is ambitious, but it can be done. Private foundations and investment backers have already dedicated over $100 million in funding for this year alone. With funding of that level, backed by the state funds, the goal of reaching 25% alternative energy by 2015, Gov. Pataki’s original goal, is easily reachable.
Do you think that New York can be fully sustainable by 2030? Is that a reachable goal? Weigh in and let us know what you think.