The Sane Energy Project, a non-profit organization that supports renewable infrastructure, has released details of a Stanford University study on renewable energy indicating the state of New York could be entirely renewable by the year 2030.
According to Sane Energy Project founder Clare Donahue, Stanford University’ Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi had already published a 2009 study, showing how the entire world could run on renewable energy by 2030. Now, Professor Jacobson has published — together with Robert Howarth, Mark Delucchi, Jannette Barth, and others — a new study that outlines how New York State can convert solely to wind, water and solar power by 2030. A video summary of the study can be viewed by visiting the following link: http://saneenergyproject.org .
The plan is essentially a recipe of what proportion of power would come from each source, and how many megawatts would be supplied by how many wind turbines, solar panels, etc. The state is already very hydro-heavy. Of the hydro, 89 percent of what’s needed already exists, and the remaining 11 percent could be developed along existing pathways, so the theory is that environmental disruption would be minimal. Because wind remains so much cheaper to build than solar, the largest proportion of new installations would be turbines, primarily offshore. Solar and geothermal make up the balance. The proportions break down as follows:
Wind: 40 percent offshore; 10 percent onshore_
Water: 5.5 percent hydro; 1 percent tidal; 0.5 percent wave
Solar: 10 percent concentrated solar plants; 10 percent solar-pv plants; 6 percent residential rooftop; 12 percent commercial/governmental rooftop
Geothermal: 5 percent
The map at left shows the relative footprint of each source. The exact number of total installations needed are as follows:
• 12,770 offshore 5-mw wind turbines
• 4,020 onshore 5-mw wind turbines
• 387 100-mw concentrated solar plants
• 828 50-mw photovoltaic power plants
• 5 million 5-kw residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
• 500,000 100-kw commercial/government rooftop photovoltaic systems
• 1,910 0.75-mw wave devices
• 2,600 1-mw tidal turbines
• 7 1,300-mw hydroelectric power plants, of which most already exist
• 36 100-mw geothermal plants
Other big strokes
Because, just as with electric cars renewable (electric) energy is so much more efficient than combustion-based energies, the plan would actually reduce the state’s energy demands by 37 percent. It would also create more jobs than it would reduce because all the energy would be produced in state-and these are not boom and bust jobs. Naturally, the state’s costs from health and mortality from air pollution would be greatly reduced, by $33 billion and 4,000 deaths annually (hard to believe we tolerate those numbers now). The installation costs would repay themselves within 17 years, before accounting for sales of electricity.
The plan is not without its critics, and can expect stiff resistance from naysayers, specifically regarding the prohibition on biodiesel, which in the estimation of industry watchdogs is a viable transition fuel for New York City boilers during the conversion to a fully electric system. But the first step in making system change is imagining the change, and thanks to a very precise picture drawn by the study authors, the vision is taking shape.