Report: 20% Solar in Reach for New York

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Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York Research and Policy Center

New York, NY – Solar power is growing so fast in New York that goals once considered ambitious are now seen as readily achievable, according to a new report by Environment New York Research & Policy Center.

“We can get to 20% solar energy in New York by 2025 if we just keep our foot on the accelerator,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “That’s a small fraction of what’s possible, but it will make a big difference in the quality of our lives and the future of our planet.”

The group’s researchers found that solar has grown 63% in recent years. Even if this pace slowed to 47%, solar could still generate 20% of New York’s electricity in just over a decade— a goal once thought improbable by many.

Achieving this goal, the report said, would cut as much carbon pollution as taking 3 million cars off the road each year, and put New York more than halfway to the benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which requires cuts in power plant carbon pollution of 44% by 2030.

“The benefits to New York from producing 20 percent of our electricity from clean, solar power by 2025 are enormous, which is why the findings contained in the Environment New York Research & Policy Center report are extremely encouraging. Migrating our energy economy to renewable and sustainable sources will help us meet our goal of a pollution-free energy future,” said State Senator Kevin Parker, the Ranking Democratic Member on the Senate Energy & Telecommunications Committee. He added: “In my capacity as the Ranking Democrat on the Energy Committee, I remain committed to accelerating New York’s leadership in renewable energy, and in taking concrete action against climate change, while we continue to build a prosperous, sustainable energy economy.”

Solar is currently the fastest-growing industry in the country, adding 143,000 jobs nationwide in 2013. According to the latest solar jobs census from the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employed more than 5,000 people in New York in 2013.

The report quantifies the New York’s enormous solar energy potential using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Already, the New York is home to more than 35 million residential and 1.9 million commercial rooftops that could host solar panels, and it has enough technical potential to meet the state’s energy needs eleven times over each year.

 “When it comes to solar energy, the sky’s the limit,” said Leibowitz. “Getting to 20% solar is just the first step to a future powered entirely by pollution-free energy.”