Is New York’s Zero Carbon Emission Goal Achievable?

The population of the state of New York is approximately 19.4 million people[1]. In June 2020, state utilities used natural gas (44.9%), nuclear energy (27.6%), and renewable energy (27.5%) to generate electricity in the state[2]. Hydropower, wind, and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in New York.

New York’s use of nuclear energy contributes to the state’s above average cost of electricity. In June 2020, the average cost of residential electricity in New York was 19.11 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 13.14 ¢ per kWh.

New York is one of 30 states[3] with a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The state requires that 70% of state’s electricity from investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative utilities be powered by renewable resources by 2030 and 100% by 2040. In 2019, New York set a goal to generate 2,400 MW of electricity from offshore wind projects.

Recent renewable energy developments in the state of New York include:

554 kW Solar + 490 kW Storage – New York solar company, IPP Solar has completed the state’s first community solar plus storage project. The project is located in Westchester County, north of New York City

1,400 kW Solar + 500 kW Storage – The State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia, New York has announced that construction has begun on its first solar + battery storage system. The university is located on the shores of Lake Erie, approximately 40 miles southwest of Buffalo, New York.

1,700 MW Offshore Wind Projects – In July 2019, state energy regulator, New York Research Development Authority (NYERD) awarded Danish utility, Ørsted and Norwegian energy company, Equinor contracts to build 880 MW and 816 MW of offshore wind contracts, respectively. The two offshore wind projects are scheduled to be fully operational by 2024.

2,500 MW Offshore Wind Projects – NYERD has recently launched a tender for offshore wind projects. The state energy regulator anticipates projects will be awarded by year-end 2020.

New York state legislators recently passed zero-carbon emission laws without asking the most important question – Does the state have the renewable energy resources to make it happen? New York can achieve this goal, if the state continues to use nuclear power, which generates over a quarter of the state’s electricity.

U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional  district, Congresswoman, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is an outspoken advocate for closing all nuclear power plants across the nation, even though nuclear power generates zero green house gas emissions. Without nuclear power, the state of New York will find it challenging to meet its zero-carbon emission target, even with new offshore wind farms on the horizon.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”


[1] New York Population 2020, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Energy Information Agency – New York State Profile and Energy Estimates

[3] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, April  17, 2020

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2 thoughts on “Is New York’s Zero Carbon Emission Goal Achievable?”

  1. Perhaps one of the only
    incouraging news this year is
    the rebirth of nuclear fusion.
    May not be fully distributed by
    2050 but it is promising. It is
    more comparable than solar
    and wind to feed into our
    current electrical grid

    1. Art, Thank you for your comment. I think New York state will have to import more green energy from Canada or other New England States to meet their RPS goal, unless new technology like nuclear fusion can be developed.

      Only a few of the 14 states that have set a 100% renewable portfolio standard standard have actually looked at their state’s renewable energy resource potential. I equate this to waking up and deciding to drive across country and thinking there is no need to look at a map or do any planning.

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