The State of Solar

Overview

Solar power is set to play a vital role in moving the world off fossil fuel use and onto renewable sources of energy. A low cost, high impact solution, solar PV works through the use of  solar voltaic glass panels, light (photons) knocks electrons off of atoms, creating electricity1. The U.S. installed 13.3 gigawatts of photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity in 2019 to reach 77.7 GW of total installed capacity, enough to power 14.5 million American homes2. Solar accounted for 40% of all new electric generating capacity added to the grid in 2019 – more than any other energy source, and the highest share in the industry’s history. China leads the world in solar power3 generation, followed by the U.S., Japan, India, Germany, Italy, U.K., France, Australia and Pakistan. In the U.S., California ranks highest among states for generating solar power electricity, followed by Arizona and North Carolina. The cost for solar PV4 has dropped about 60% in the last ten years and consequently the U.S. saw record setting residential solar capacity in 2019, adding more than 2.8 GW5.  Residential solar panels can convert over 300 watts6 of power per hour per panel.

 

New York State

Solar power is currently a small, but mighty and growing, source of energy for New York State and an important component to getting New York State off fossil fuels. Long Island Solar Farm is the largest solar power plant in the eastern United States, consisting of 164,000 solar panels that provide up to 32 MW of electricity. As of 2019, 1.86% of electricity in New York State was generated by solar power, the 10th highest in the country, up from 1.33% in 2018, and having tripled since 20117. California leads the way, with 24,464 MW of solar electricity generated in 2018, about 11.8% of its energy production8. There are currently over 261,000 homes powered by solar in New York State9 and solar pricing has fallen over 38% over the past 5 years.

In order to incentivize individual homeowners’ transition to solar, there are federal, state and city tax credits for getting solar on your residence10. Low-income households can also qualify in New York State for additional savings11.

Want to get solar for your residence? There are many providers in New York State and most will do a free consultation. Click here for some recommendations. SolarOne‘s ‘Here Comes Solar’ initiative seeks to provide NYC residents access to solar power in a variety of ways.

NY-Sun, a public-private partnership under New York State Energy Research & Development Agency (NYSERDA), seeks to help New Yorkers adopt solar power through incentives and education, among other things.

The real potential for solar power in New York State is through utility-scale projects. The SolutionsProject.org, a non-profit founded by Actor Mark Ruffalo and scientist Mark Jacobson, estimates that New York State would get to zero carbon-emissions with approximately 36% of its energy coming from solar plants and about 7% coming from residential and commercial rooftop solar.

There are a number of bills that have been put forward to move New York State off fossil fuels, including the recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which commits the state to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

An even more stringent proposal is the OFF Act, Senate bill S5908A, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman, which requires NYS to establish a “one hundred percent clean energy system” by 203012.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has offered his own proposals, such as his Green New Deal which seeks to bring NYS power to 100% renewable by 2040 and invest $1.5 billion in clean energy infrastructure. The plan includes quadrupling the state’s offshore wind capacity and more than doubling onshore wind and solar13.  Through NYSERDA, the state has begun to give out large grants for large-scale clean-energy projects.

 

New York City

New York City has solar plans of its own. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan, Solarize NYC, creates “multiple solar group purchasing campaigns,” which lowers the cost of solar installation by engaging in competitive bidding and collective purchasing. Apply to solarize your community today!

 

Brooklyn

Brooklyn has many plans to ramp up its solar output. Through ReSet (Renewable and Sustainable Energy Taskforce), Eric Adams, the borough President, provides resources to make it easier for Brooklynites to adopt a “greener energy infrastructure.” They offer resources, such as rebates for updating your water heater or boiler, and a Brooklyn-Queens LED light bulb giveaway, amongst other incentives.

 

New York Annual Solar Installations, 2010-201914

 

Sources

  1. Livescience.com
  2. SEIA
  3. Energydigital.com
  4. Solar-estimate.org
  5. SEIA
  6. Solarpowerrocks.com
  7. NYS DEC
  8. California Energy Commission
  9. Solar Energy Industries Association
  10. 1.nyc.gov
  11. Nyserda.ny.gov
  12. “S5908”, nysenate.gov
  13. Governor.ny.gov
  14. seia.org