sustainable thinking

New York City to ramp up green power with giant solar array

Mayor Bloomberg earmarks 47-acre site on Staten Island for planned solar system that is expected to power more than 2,000 homes

By Will Nichols

27 Nov 2013

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A view of downtown Manhattan in New York

A huge solar array planned for Staten Island is expected to increase New York City's renewable energy capacity by 50 per cent.

The solar power station is due to be built in Freshkills Park, where around 47 acres of the parkland will be leased to the company SunEdison to build and operate the system, which is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes.

Announcing the project yesterday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "Over the last 12 years we've restored wetlands and vegetation and opened new parks and soccer fields at the edges of the site. Thanks to the agreement today we will increase the amount of solar energy produced in New York City by 50 per cent and it is only fitting that Freshkills, once a daily dumping ground, will become a showcase of urban renewal and sustainability."

A push to increase green energy and reduce emissions is integral to the city's sustainability strategy, PlaNYC, which also includes a goal of replacing all NYC's street lights with energy-efficient LED lighting by 2017.

Officials said the solar array would boost understanding of how more renewables can integrate into local energy networks to become a key part of the city's energy supply.

"Developing solar energy on Freshkills Park shows that large-scale renewable energy projects are possible in New York City, but this is only a first step," said Cas Holloway, NYC Deputy Mayor for operations.

"If we are serious about meeting New York City's tremendous energy needs from renewable sources we need the state and federal governments, as well as our utility partners and others in the private sector, to work with us to make solar and other renewable energies easier to develop, install and access the energy grid."

Solar energy is becoming increasingly mainstream in the US. In October more than 99 per cent of all new electric generation placed in service came from renewables, with solar making up the vast majority.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says 12 new solar units accounted for 504MW or around 72 per cent of all new capacity in October, as the effects of policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) start to pay dividends.

The country now has more than 9,400MW of cumulative solar electric capacity installed – enough to power more than 1.5 million homes – and that number is expected to hit nearly 13,000MW by the end of this year.

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