DAVID EHRLICH, Cleantech Group, August 20, 2008
The Big Apple is looking for offshore wind, as well as bridge- and building-mounted turbines, and tidal, solar, geothermal, and landfill gas projects.
New York City has launched a request for renewable energy projects that could see the city’s skyline altered by wind turbines, solar panels and other clean technologies.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation released a Request for Expressions of Interest for projects including offshore wind farms, bridge- and building-mounted wind turbines, and tidal, solar, geothermal, and landfill gas power.
“Such projects might, for example, be designed to draw power from the tides of the Hudson and East Rivers — something we’re already doing on a pilot basis,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.
Last year, New York-based Verdant Power installed underwater turbines in the East River.
“They might call for dramatically increasing rooftop solar power production, which we’ve estimated could meet nearly 20% of the city’s need for electricity,” said Bloomberg. “They could tap into geothermal energy. In fact, some private home and building owners have already drilled their own heat wells.”
The mayor said companies may also want to target the potential of offshore wind in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Wind farms located far off our shores, some evidence shows, could meet 10% of our city’s electricity needs within a decade,” he said. “I think it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants, but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean wind farm.”
But there could be significant hurdles to that vision, with an offshore wind project just outside of the city getting killed last year after the cost of the project spiraled upward.
The Long Island Power Authority, which would’ve footed the bill for the 140 megawatt wind farm, released an independent report which estimated costs of over $800 million, including the pricetag for the transmission cable to bring the power to shore. First proposed in 2003, original estimates for the Long Island wind farm were between $150 million and $200 million.
New York City hasn’t set an overall megawatt capacity that it hopes to pull in with its request for renewables, but it said the projects can include demonstrations, small scale installations of less than 50 MW, and large scale installations of 50 MW or greater.
Earlier this year, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority unveiled preliminary plans for a wide range of cleantech initiatives in its system, including solar and wind power, green roofs, water management, and regenerative braking for subway cars.
The MTA, which has an average peak demand in the city of about 600 MW, currently gets about 80% of its power from the New York Power Authority.
Last month, Bloomberg announced plans to spend $2.3 billion to cut greenhouse gas emissions in municipal buildings and operations over the next 30 years.
The mayor said the city is aiming to cut 1.68 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents a year from 2006 levels by 2017, lowering emissions by 30% in 30 years.
That plan includes making city buildings more efficient, improving preventative maintenance, and capturing energy potential at wastewater treatment plants.
The city is also reportedly set to announce an LED street lamp demonstration project with the Office for Visual Interaction, a New York-based lighting design group. The project just covers six street lamps, with the company redesigning the entire unit, including the pole, and putting up to four LEDs on each pole to light up different areas of the street and sidewalk.
Getting renewable projects up and running for the city could end up being just half the battle, as Bloomberg pointed out that the U.S. transmission grid needs an upgrade. He said that for more than 20 years through to the late 1990s, as demand for power increased, the amount invested in transmission lines fell by half.
“The blackout that hit New York and the Northeast five years ago was a wake-up call that it was time to change course and fast,” he said. “The good news is that investment in transmission lines is up.”
“And it will have to keep going up if we’re going to keep pace with a peak demand for power that some have estimated will grow by more than 17% over the next ten years.”