Report says state’s energy could be almost 100% renewable by 2030

Apr 8, 2013

A recent study outlines a scenario that would see New York State’s energy infrastructure based on all-renewable sources by year 2030.

The study entitled “Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water and Sunlight,” was published in the Journal of Energy Policy and featured perspectives from various contributors including Cornell University Professor of Engineering, Tony Ingraffea.

Ingraffea said the report is aimed at the state’s energy stakeholders and argues that current regulations are slowing down the pace of converting generation based on fossil fuels, to generation based on a  combination of wind, water and sunlight.

“The point we’re trying to make in the paper is the slow part was 10 years ago. 40% of all new electricity generation in the United States in 2012 came from wind and solar. The last month 2012, the first month of 2013, 100% of all new electricity generation in the United States came from renewables,” said Ingraffea

Currently, the state’s energy infrastructure includes about 15% from renewables. Ingraffea says if the plan received the political support and private investment outlined, we’d continue to see a yearly increase in that percentage, eventually reaching 100%. He acknowledges that would also involve an update to the grid.

“Everybody knows that we have a very fragile electrical grid in the country and it has to be upgraded, so if you want to upgrade it, you want to upgrade it to the traditional sources of fossil fuel electricity? Which obviously over time are going to phase out, or do you just want to get it over with,” said Ingraffea.

Ingraffea says the financial support renewables receive remains small compared to the hefty subsidies fossil fuels receive.

“What people don’t understand is that the fossil fuel industry receives indirect subsidies in the form of what is called externalized costs. Those are costs paid by the consumer without knowing it, because fossil fuels when they’re burned do produce air pollution, particulate matter. When we’re paying our health insurance we are paying for the increased morbidity and mortality,” said Ingraffea.

The study was a non-funded, volunteer effort and included input from students and professors from Cornell and Stanford University.