The 2009 NY State Energy Plan (NYSEP) was completed at the end of 2009, following an extensive period of citizen feedback and comments. The 2009 NYSEP is an update of the Pataki era plan that was produced earlier in the decade, and the new one is intended to guide and provide information to NY's state governmental agencies (such as the SUNY system), local governments (counties, cities, towns, etc) as well as companies, non-profits and all of its citizens and residents for the 2010 to 2028 time period. It also is an attempt to incorporate recent changes in technology, global climate knowledge and energy economics - such as more emphasis on the undesirable consequences of Global Warming. As can be seen, there are several hundred pages of reading material (but it's also got lots of graphs and tables, so it's not that much reading...). And like many such efforts, this was put together by committee, and it reflects compromises between opposing viewpoints on several items, as well as compromises between politics and science and the economics of cheap energy versus pollution and "robbing from the future". It even mentions the concept of Peak Oil, though it really never delves into what this will mean for NY over the next ~ 20 years - but most such documents never even mention Peak Oil, so that is an improvement....
Anyway, environmentalists also do not hold a unified view of this document, other than it has some good items, as well as significant room for improvement. And besides, the qualification to be an environmentalist is pretty simple (no need for college degrees, professional licenses, etc)... all you need to do is say that you are one, and presto, you are one. Of course, whether others will perceive you as an environmentalist.... that could be a different matter.
Also, no proposed renewable energy experiments for any NY municipality such as that on the Danish vacation island of Samso (the island is attempting to be 100% renewable energy powered) were proposed in the NYSEP...
At present, NY's energy is largely pollution based, mostly imported fossil fuels from outside of the state (and also outside of the country, especially for petroleum). Due to the large flow of water through the Great Lakes, NY has two very decent sized hydroelectric projects (Niagara Falls and St Lawrence River) which provide on average about 2.2 GW (capacity is near 3.5 GW, however) of some of the lowest cost electricity in the U.S. (about 0.25 c/kw-hr production costs); these facilities are owned by the people of NY State via the New York Power Authority (NYPA). As such, NY has a higher percentage of pollution free electricity in its supply than most states in the U.S. We also have one of the lowest per capita CO2 pollution levels in the U.S. (NY's is 14.7 tons CO2/yr according to the NYSEP; the national per capita average is near 20 tons CO2/yr), mostly due to the rapid transit system in NY City (MTA) region - an average of 7.1 million passenger rides/day on (mostly) electric trains and diesel powered buses. If one assumes 2 rides per person per day (to and from), that's roughly 3.6 million people who avoid having to drive a car, which is SUCH a 21st century idea...; the 3.6 million riders is more people than exist in over 20 states of the US. Those 3.6 million riders per day are about 19% of the state's population, and probably about 25% of the driving age population of NY State. On an electricity only basis, NY's CO2 pollution rate is about 3.2 tons/person per year.
However, from an environmentalist's point of view, we still are plagued by 6 nukes, and far too much fossil fuel usage to produce electricity and heat. We also are extensively sub-urbanized, which translates into a civilization based on gasoline consuming automobiles, and a goods transportation system largely centered around diesel fuel consuming trucks (and also freight for bulk transport (such as coal) trains; the former electric freight rail lines were dismantled in the 1950's).
The NYSEP actually anticipates very little direct spending of taxpayer money (maybe Federal government, but as long as it is not state tax monies...). One "indirect expenditure" is via the Systems Benefit Charge (SBC, a 0.5562 cents/kw-hr add-on to the electricity bills of NY residents) of NYSERDA, which is a levy on electrical transmission in NY paid by customers of this electricity on a amount consumed basis. Much of this funds (or is supposed to, but it can't be spent if the renewable electricity it is supposed to pay for is not made) the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program that provides extra revenue to some renewable energy generators in NY and a few turbines in New Jersey; so far, the RPS is only achieving about 50% of its stated goals for renewable electricity production for the target stated for 2009. Much of that is because of the collapse in the prices of electricity in NY that happened in 2008-2009 (and still happening), which the RPS cannot sufficiently overcome. The plan also anticipates considerable improvements in energy efficiency - electrically speaking, between 2.5 to 2.8 GW on an average continuous basis (15% of the 16.5 GW total average load) will be avoided, and a similar drop is supposed to happen with natural gas consumption. However, if more electricity (renewable sourced, hopefully) is used to replace some of the natural gas consumption (residential and commercial heat, for example) and gasoline/diesel (for cars, trucks and trains), then electricity consumption is likely to either remain stable or actually increase; so much for that plan on decreasing electricity consumption. There is up to $1 billion in various funds/in kind services allocated/estimated for these efficiency improvements, but there is an inherent contradiction between the effect of lowering demand (resulting in dropping electricity prices) and motivating the public to invest in energy efficiencies (energy consumption costs too much, and justifies these efficiency investments) as well as new renewable energy production (which is more expensive than most old polluting electricity sources, especially coal based). The estimated drop in electricity price will come exclusively through drops in the prices paid to generators (T&D prices will probably rise); this will remove much of the incentive to install new renewable energy generation systems. After all, a drop in usage by 2 to 5% dropped generated prices by more than 50% statewide - what would a drop in usage by 15% do to prices paid to generators? Much of the price reduction would occur via the Merit Order Effect (MOE) - where the most expensive marginal producers (oil and possibly natural gas single cycle) of peak electricity would be replaced, possibly with some wind, some energy efficiency, and possibly by population decline and even more de-industrialization.
The energy efficiency goals are most definitely a good thing, but their unintended consequence is the suppression of electricity prices from the current depressed levels. A decreased consumption of natural gas and electricity is anticipated to occur via both increased efficiency in and the continued destruction of NY's industrial sector. The "industrial annihilation" will result in significant loss of income to NY State, destruction of middle class living standards and cast into doubt the ability of much of NY's population to make investments in housing energy improvements; it also shows that there is little anticipated effect of "Green Jobs"/"Green Manufacturing", much of which is, ironically, energy intensive (photovoltaic panels, steel recycling, wind turbine manufacture are examples of this). Oh well, supposedly you can't win them all... There is also the conundrum of "Jevon's Paradox", which is an empirical observation that more efficient use of energy often leads to MORE energy usage UNLESS there is a steep increase in the price of that energy.
Another bone of contention concerns the future prices of renewable energy. The NYSEP assumes that future prices of electricity derived from mostly wind will be less expensive in the future than at present. The same hunch is assumed for photovoltaic systems. Unfortunately, there is no recent evidence to back up these claims - wind turbine prices have actually increased in recent years faster than any increase in productivity (more energy from the same wind speeds) from the turbines. The one possible source of lowering installation costs has NOTHING to do with either improved technology, manufacturing or installation labor and equipment - and that is FINANCING. Getting lower interest rates on loans that are amortized over longer time periods would have a significant positive impact, as would lower equity costs (profit rates demanded by owners). Since photovoltaic (PV) capital intensity is actually much higher than for wind turbines (that is, the capital investment divided by the actual electrical output), the financing and equity costs for PV are even more important than for wind turbines. At current prices of near $70 million per average delivered MW (about $7 million per MWp (peak capacity)), PV could cost over $1 trillion to power up NY (PV only basis). The way to lower debt and equity costs is to lower the financial risk associated with variable electricity pricing, but that was barely addressed (such as via Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) or via Feed-In Laws). In this case, gambling on future prices dumps a lot of extra "present and future costs" onto consumers, and it trashes the economic prospects of many (for 2009, all) NY renewable energy projects. Furthermore, unless Feed-In Law mechanisms are employed, all PV applications need extensive subsidies, since the electricity production costs from PV (before subsidies) of 50 to 80 cents/kw-hr cannot come to anywhere near to the current NYISO rates (2 to 6 c/kw-hr in Western NY). Since those subsidies have to come from somewhere, in times of tight budgets, PV viability becomes very questionable. Feed-In Laws are not subsidies, so the governmental (= taxes) monies to pay out subsidies are not required when this approach is chosen.
What may be worse is the price needed to justify investments in new gas wells - now around $9/MBtu, according to Credit Suisse, a major financier of these:
or a more colorful version:
A large part of the cost and price increases needed to get new Ngas is the drive to extract "tight shale gas" via hydrofracturing (fracking) - for example, in the Barnett, Haynesville and Marcellus regions. It turns out that this is expensive, and such gas wells often deplete at 60% to 80% per year - they have to be "re-fracked" every 6 months or so. This is the classic "running faster to stay in place" situation so aptly described in Lewis Carol's "Alice in Wonderland" - most of the large, easy to extract gas fields are wearing down/drained, and to maintain a constant production, larger numbers of wells to get at Ngas stashed in smaller fields of harder to get gas have to be attempted. In the Barnett fields, less than 31% of the 12,000 wells drilled were profitable at $8/MBtu and ~ 15% would be profitable at $6/MBtu (which is still higher than the current Henry Hub price...). Thus, at current prices, almost all Ngas wells would be unprofitable. This situation is usually dealt with by selling the gas to the futures market, and/or hedging the gas price with speculators. Unfortunately, that will not work so well after more than 18 months of depressed Ngas prices...
In other words, Ngas prices are apt to be a lot higher as time rolls along, because banks will not continue to loan money to "Exploration & Production" (E&P) companies that lose money. Prices must eventually be greater than the sum of production costs and expected/required profits, otherwise, further private investments will not occur for such Ngas exploration. In addition, E&P fracking efforts in NY State are likely to be costlier than in Texas and Louisiana, since the oil and gas/drilling/refining business is much smaller in NY than in those two states, and spills/water and air pollution are less likely to be tolerated. Thus, fracking Ngas from the Marcellus and Utica shale may provide some of NY's Ngas, but this will be among the most expensive Ngas (and hence set the marginal Ngas prices) in this region, even though initial results from Marcellus wells tend to produce greater quantities of Ngas per well than in the Barnett and Haynesville region (but at least their Ngas is not contaminated with measurable quantities of radon, which is the case in some Marcellus wells). In addition, efforts to source electricity in NY on Marcellus Ngas are extremely flawed, as are efforts to replace coal sourced electricity; the two major flaws being the CO2 pollution from Ngas combustion and the highly variable and intrinsically unknowable future Ngas pricing over a 20 year period. However, Ngas is always associated with money; gas tends to flow to money, after all. The Marcellus "play" may even be used to supply Ontario. See here for some gas shale maps of the U.S.
As for future Ngas pricing in NY State, this is the model (pricing and supply estimates from NYSEP) used:
This future price scenario is hopelessly out of date, and unrealistically stable. The apparent gradual price increase would be very tolerable; however, price spikes are very destabilizing, economically speaking and especially with respect to E&P. The downturn from a price spike (price plunge) means that drilling and development only take place approximately half of the time (the upwards trending price periods), resulting in a decreased overall pace of E&P efforts, and less Ngas produced over time. One of the questions asked in the NYSEP is whether the Indian Point complex (~ 2 x 1 GW nukes located 20 miles north of NYC) could be replaced with natural gas sourced combined cycle facilities (in other words, massive point source electric generators/Ngas consumers). This question was asked with respect to pipeline capacity, not whether the Ngas would be present at affordable prices. And not whether the Indian Point twin nukes could be replaced with renewable (they could) electricity - for example, with some combination of onshore wind, offshore wind and tidal (Long Island Sound) and pumped hydro storage/new transmission lines to the Indian Point site (they exist from Indian Point to NYC).
As for oil, NY is "outta luck". However, gasoline and diesel can be readily manufactured from natural gas; one such approach is Mobil Oil's MTG process. In the NYSEP, there is no serious thought given to NY production of oil from either natural gas or from coal. Nor is there much discussion given to converting biomass to hydrocarbons (such as via the Exxon-Mobil MTG process after converting biomass to methanol). In effect, the only alternative to petroleum usage is to not use oil products; in NY this means electric powered transportation with some supplemental biofuels, or no transportation at all. Of course, more mass transit would be very capital intensive, but apparently no significant NY taxpayer funds will be used to invest in either more NYC mass transit lines/facilities, or for the Albany-Buffalo high speed rail line, or even an expansion of light rail in Buffalo... There is also a bit of discussion on battery powered cars, but by and large, NY has to depend on the ever shrinking kindness of strangers (strange countries and strange states) for the right to buy crude oil/refined oil from others. When oil price spikes slam the state and especially the state economy...oh well...it will be grin and bear it time once again.
Renewables in a Significant Manner:
In the NYSEP, a slight of hand is used for non-polluting electricity production (either 25% or 45% renewable by either 2010 (not met) or 2015 (not there yet)), and this revolves around hydroelectricity. For example, in 2008 (via the NYISO 2009 Goldbook), average hydroelectricity output was 2.946 GW (25,874 GW-hr/yr) - most of this came from the Niagara Falls (1559 MW average output) and FDR/St Lawrence River dam (796 MW); but 592 MW came from numerous smaller (at least 60) facilities. The hydro output of NY added up to 18% of NY's 16.46 GW average generation. To get to a 25% level at constant consumption, an additional 1.169 GW of renewable is needed. Subtracting the 146 MW of wind generated in 2008, the 341 MW of "other" (wood, landfill gas, trash, etc) means that "only" 682 MW (average delivered basis) is needed. This translates into 2273 MW of new wind turbine capacity (at a 30% net output). Since the end of 2008, an additional 751 MW of wind was put on-line (mostly installed by the end of 2008/commissioned in 2009) worth about another 225 MW on a delivered basis, so in theory "only" 1522 MW of wind capacity (457 MW on an average delivered basis) would be needed to meet the 25% standard.
In the NYSEP, mention is made of how apparently painless this extra 7% renewable electricity (as non-hydro renewables) will be attained. In the renewables section, an average extra cost of ~ 0.6 c/kw-hr is expected (via the SBC charge of 0.55 c/kw-hr). Much of the extra cost of the renewables (mostly wind turbines) will mitigated by the Merit Order Effect, where oil and natural gas will be displaced by wind. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, no pain, no gain. Eventually, if electricity consumption is held constant and more renewables are added into to the NY electricity supply mix, something has to close down. From an environmental aspect, closure of old nukes or coal burners would be preferred, but any shut downs will probably be on the basis of cost of production/required operating prices. Thus, either kerosene or methane fired combined systems would be mothballed as more wind is added, initially, and then natural gas baseload plants will be displaced once the more expensive smaller gas consuming plants are displaced.
Upping the renewable electrical energy requirement to 45% (and assuming essentially no reduction in electricity usage) would mean that another 2.46 GW (delivered basis) of new renewables is installed, also requiring the shutdown of 2.46 GW of polluting electricity. The 2.46 GW of renewables, if as land based wind turbines, would probably be around 8200 MW of wind turbine capacity, worth a tidy $16.4 billion investment. And again, with the steady state assumption for electricity consumption, this implies shuttering 2.46 GW of polluting power (for example, the Indian Point twins (nukes) plus the Ginna nuke near Rochester, which is 40 years young), or else all of NY's coal burners with the exception of the Kodak Park co-gen complex (~ 200 MW and 3.4 million lbs/hr of steam for process heating). Obviously, mothballing these cash cow-mode power plants such as the 3 nukes, or else essentially all of the coal burners in NY State (14.7% of 16.5 GW is 2.46 GW....) would eliminate a lot of "cash-cow profits" and make some very wealthy people and/or corporations very angry, as their plans for NY State do not involve much in the way of investing IN New York State, but instead, of extracting profits FROM New York State. And by replacing 2.46 GW of POTENTIALLY super-low cost power (remember, in the NYISO system, the price paid for electricity has no direct relationship to the cost to manufacture most of that electricity; the price received is what can be obtained in each NYISO zone via the hourly bidding, and the highest price of the selected set of bids for that particular time interval). If some of this low cost electricity was part of NY's "bilateral electricity contracts" (essentially fixed price for a set quantity and over a set period of time), the replacement of this polluting power with renewables will raise NY State electricity prices. However, if the power replaced was part of the spot market mix, most renewables (especially wind) will have little little impact on the NYISO bid prices, at least, until wind gets to be a major player in NY's electricity mix.
Another major problem not even addressed in the NYSEP was how to replace the Ngas used for residential and commercial heating. Most houses in NY are heated with Ngas, with the assumption made that no shortages are likely to occur with Ngas for residential and commercial heating. However, producing increasing amounts of electricity with Ngas increases Ngas consumption, and thus it increases the North American continental demand for Ngas, pushing up prices and increasing the continental (esp U.S. and Canadian) Ngas depletion rates. Of course, this also forces more efforts towards expensive Ngas, such as tight gas shale production.
The longer term replacement of Ngas with renewable electricity (as resistance heat and/or as the energy source for heat pump compressors), and the increasing usage of passive solar heating and active solar thermal heating (especially for hot water) would have the beneficial effect of decreasing the demand for Ngas. And decreasing the demand for Ngas in NY State should get far more emphasis, if only for the economic aspect (Ngas is also a greenhouse gas pollution source via the CO2 made during combustion). Sending money out of state to pay for imports of Ngas no longer makes sense when Ngas costs rise steeply, as this is the equivalent of burning up NY income and wealth in a giant bonfire. Ngas costs are no longer insignificant (about 1.2 trillion cubic feet per year (tcfy), worth $12 billion/yr at $10/MBtu). Should Ngas prices spike in the near future, the result would be a "de-facto" tax on large numbers of NY residential and commercial Ngas customers, but where once again none of this "tax" (extra monies spent on Ngas procurement) would go to the government, and very little would stay within NY State.
In a related point, the problem of how to get most of NY's residential housing and commercial customers to use solar hot water heating as a significant supplement to Ngas sourced water heating still has not been addressed by either state of federal governments. This can reduce residential demand for Nga by about 10% (see this item). Unfortunately, most incentives are based on tax credits, which are only useful for those who pay income taxes (for example, more than $4000/yr of income taxes, requiring taxable incomes of over $64,000/yr (NY State Tax) for state based credits, or a Federal income of more than $50,000/yr for a married/filing jointly arrangement). Such incentives cleave off more than half of the population (NY median family income was near $56,000/yr in 2008). National trends show that median real incomes has dropped by 4% over the last decade, mostly in the last two years. In addition, the economic incentive to invest in a solar hot water heating system (cost $3500 to ~ $9500/house) is destroyed by cheap Ngas prices, but increased by higher Ngas prices. Maybe NY State needs to raise Ngas sales taxes, and use the proceeds for Ngas demand reduction, like solar hot water heaters. A great source of information on these can be found at Earthkindsolar.
NY spends and sends away a lot of money for liquid fuels (5.8 billion gal/yr (bgy) gasoline, about 2.8 billion gal/yr of diesel, and probably a billion gal/yr of kerosene (jet fuel)). At a wholesale level, this is over $20 billion/yr exported out of state, almost all for transportation. While not all of this could be made in NY via biofuels, a considerable portion could, but only if fuel prices justified this investment. While it is likely that gasoline, kerosene and diesel prices will rise significantly in the near future, (due to price spikes from Peak Export Oil), just how soon that would be is unknown and presently only a guess.
For example, assume that some combination of increased fuel mileage (U.S. average is near 23 mpg) and less vehicle miles traveled (ride-sharing, more walking, biking, mass transit) is used in NY, cutting the amount of gasoline burned in NY State to 2.9 bgy. Assume further that over half of the jet fuel usage is replaced via electric passenger rail, and that over half of the diesel used is replaced with more train traffic for freight (9 times as efficient as with trucks) and electric freight. When fuel prices double to near $6/gallon, NY'ers would still only be faced with money exports of fuel costing about $20 billion/yr. At such prices, most of this fuel could be grown in NY. For example, at 450 gallons of EtOH/acre per year from corn, "only" 10,000 square miles (22% of NY State land area) could supply 2.9 bgy. At 350 gal/acre per year of EtOH from cellulose, "only" 29% of NY land area would be needed. Using wood gasification, yields of ~ 427 gallons/acre of diesel-like fuels (4 m^3/hectare) can be obtained by processing the biomass derived syn-gas. There are a huge number of studies, and many recent examples of this approach. One commercial example is Enerkem, which uses a synthesis gas (from wood) to ethanol/methanol mix. Their plant recently opened in Westbury, Ontario, and the stated yield is about 95 gallons/ton of wood. At a yield of 5 tons of wood/yr per acre, this is about 475 gallons of fuel/acre per year. Many combinations of biodiesel (methyl and ethyl esters of fatty acids), synthesis gas derived gasoline and diesel (for example, Fischer-Tropsch processes like the "back half" of the Sasol system), bio-syngas sourced methanol/ethanol/higher alcohols like butanols, fermentation sourced methane and ethanol, etc are possible. Using this much biomass would also be a tremendous stimulant to rural NY State, and more or less end the dominance (or dependence) of rural NY on the dairy industry (and also economic dependence on the prisons in rural areas used for urban convicts), which would be a good thing. Renewable electricity can also be used to make fules such as ethanol, methanol, methane and ammonia by converting water to hydrogen and oxygen, and using that hydrogen to reduce eiethr nitrogen (to make ammonia) or carbon based fuels. Ammonia can also be used to stimulate plant growth and or to be the feedstock for protein production in crops like corn, sugar beets, and wheat; the sugars, starch and or cellulose parts of such plants can then be converted into fuels. Ammonia also increases yields for oil seeds such as canola; by-product protein can be used as people or animal food, while the oils can be used to make biodiesel.
Note: The 5 ton/acre/year estimate is about 11.5 metric tons/hectare - see this reference for an estimate of woody biomass yields in New England.
Enormous efforts have been expended on trying to make biofuels cost competitive with crude oil derived products to date. Unfortunately, crude oil is still priced far below its true value (the work that can be done with $3 of gasoline, for example), and most crude oil actually has a production cost near $20/barrel (bbl), even though the selling price in bulk is now near $80/bbl. Crude oil tends to be a "hunter-gatherer" booty; the actual manufacture of renewable (or mostly renewable) liquid fuels tends to involve significant capital, and lots of labor (but that is a good thing given the ~20% real unemployment rate in NY State (U6 value) these days). The sum of the capital, labor and whatever energy (some fraction of the biomass feedstock, or of renewable electricity) is a cost of biofuel production, and these costs are between $2.50 to $10/gallon of gasoline equivalent (a big range). At current crude oil prices, biofuels tend to be too expensive to readily compete with crude oil - especially when major external costs of crude oil (such as military protection costs over $240 BILLION/yr) are never added into the cost of the imported oil part of the U.S. oil mix (more than 60% imported). Given that oil imports are roughly 12 mbd (4.4 billion bbls/yr), that is a $55/bbl subsidy. Another item to consider is the cost associated with the export of $350 billion/yr in return for oil, and especially the opportunity cost of this (that is, what $350 billion/yr could be invested in/spent on instead of importing all that oil). The U.S. needs to export more than $1 billion/day on a net basis just to "break even".
As long as renewable fuels are priced by fossil fuels (especially oil and oil products), renewables are extremely risky. Should the OPEC cartel view them as a trheat, renewables could be easily driven out of business if "the crude oil taps" were opened for a small interval of time (6 months to a year), driving down oil prices as the means to do this. The combination of renewables, conservation, fuel efficiency could act to buffer the drastic effects of price shocks on NY, but if renewable fule prices are hitched to non-renewable prices, then there is little, if any buffering effect. Renewable also suppress the price of crude oil to some extent by lowering the demand for crude oil. In the U.S., with ethanol production now at ~ 750,000 bbls/day (equivalent to about 0.5 mbd of gasoline, or about 1 mbd of crude oil to make that gasoline), removal of EtOH from the market would cause all oil prices to rise by about $20/bbl by raising demand for exportable crude oil on the world market by ~ 2.3%. This is because world oil prices are really set by the volume of oil exported (about 43 mbd) and purchased by importing countries, such as the U.S., China and India. If another 1 mbd of crude oil was needed and yet not able to be supplied, prices would need to rise to extinguish the demand for this 1 mbd from somewhere else in the world. The rise of oil prices by $20/bbl would apply to all U.S. oil (domestic and imported), costing consumers close to $131 billion, and requiring the additional export of nearly $88 billion. The current ethanol subsidies of $6 billion/yr seem to pale in comparison to that hit to the wallet.
NY State could potentially benefit significantly by raising prices on crude oil based products via increased sales taxes. This would not only raise tax income for the state, but it would also lower the demand for gasoline, kerosene and diesel, and change consumer behavior by driving less, selecting alternatives to driving gasoline power cars more often, buying more fuel efficient cars and by chosing to live closer to where the consumers usually drive to (such as work). By not taxing biofuels, local manufacturers would become more able to compete with/supply larger amounts of fuels, and would become less dependent on government subsidies. As they supply larger and larger portions of the liquid fuels market, more imported oil could be displaced, and more importantly, more money in NY could be recycled from fuel consumers to farmers and manufacturers. In addition, this trend would provide greater buffer to the inevitable oil price spikes (occurring when oil supply comes close to matching oil demand, resulting in skyrocketing price increases as well as "demand destruction"). To avoid drastic price shocks and also to instill the right "price signals" to consumers, such oil sales taxes need to be imposed steadily (for example, 1 c/gallon per month) and for a long time (for the next 5 to 10 years, for example). This steadily increasing oil price due to taxes, as well as due to Peak Oil, would allow for profitable development of renewable fules. While the level of oil consumption made possible by biofuels would never reach 2010 levels, this would allow for some sufficient level of biofuels to be made. The higher price of oil would also allow for the profitable development of electric cars and electric mass transit. Approximately 80% of current car uses are for less than 20 miles, after all; these are readily feasible with electric cars.
Unfortunately, this course of action is heresy at the current time. It is heretical for political reasosn as well as cultural ones (we are a gasoline-diesel-car-truck based society at present), and since the full onset of Peak Oil with huge price increases above today's levels has not quite arrived, the urgency for this has not yet arrived. But, since NY possesses no usable quantities of crude oil, and the initial effects of Peak Oil (especially Peak Export Oil) are being experienced, and NY state is less than broke (due partly to a Oil price spike induced recession in 2007-2008) with little likelihood that things will change in the next decade, this course of action needs to be discussed, as well as why this is heretical. Attempts to use non-existent government funds to pay for biofuels whose manufacturing cost is still greater than present oil prices is also a non-solution. So is steadily going further into the economic hole by just ignoring the current near future for petroleum supplies and especially oil that the U.S. can purchase from abroad.
As stated earlier, NY currently generates about 3 GW of its 16.5 GW average electricity load via hydroelectricity. The use of run-of-river (especially in the Niagara River and St Lawrence River) and more small hydro dams may be able to raise this by another 1 GW. That would leave a gap of 12.5 GW to be filled by other renewables. Of that, the tidal energy potential of Long Island Sound has been estimated to be 2 GW. By installing a large array of tidal turbines, the remaining demand would be near 10.5 GW.
While biomass could be used as a substitute for coal, a higher value added usage would be as a liquid fuel for auto, trucking, construction, emergency and portable stored power as well as agriculture. Thus, only 0.5 GW of a combination of biogas and biomass thermal (for co-gen) should be utilized.
The remaining 10 GW could easily be supplied by onshore wind as well as pumped hydroelectric storage (approximately 10 GW of capacity for that, giving ~ 100 GW-hr of buffer). Here is some recent estimates of NY's onshore wind delivered average power output as a function of height and average net outputs (in GW) of 25, 30, 35 and 40% of a "generic" commercial scale wind turbine (similar to the GE 1.5 sl, 1.5 MW by 77 meter rotor). They were obtained from a recent NREL/AWS study:
Net average output, % --> 25 ............ 30 ........... 35 ............ 40
Tower Ht, meters
.................... 80 ............. 15.3 ............ 7.6 ........... 1.6 ........... 0.4
.................... 100 ............. 26.8 ........... 16.4 ........ 6.6 ........... 1.3
The 30% output at 80 meters corresponds to approximately a 6.7 m/s wind speed at hub height. If slightly higher priced electricity (using taller towers at lower wind speed sites) was allowed, all of NY's electricity could be supplied by wind. Furthermore, a new variety of wind turbines typified by oversize blaades to a given generator rating have recently been announced by a few manufacturers (notably Vestas and Siemens); for example, the V-90 x 1.8 MW and the V-100 x 1.8 MW (both Vestas) give higher outputs at lower speeds than models targeted towards higher wind speeds (for example, their V80 (1.8 MW) and V82 (1.65 MW). For example, the V-100 could give a 30% net output from a wind resource averaging 5.8 m/s at 80 meters height. Such turbines give NY even greater capacity. There seems to be a dramatic height effect, too.
Odds are, some combination of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Long Island (Atlantic side) wind turbines will also be used (with areas of ~ 500, 2500 and 5000 square miles of possible water surface that could be used). At an average delivered output of 6 MW per square mile (40% net output), this would be 3 GW + 15 GW + 30 GW for the Erie, Ontario and Atlantic potential, These would be more expensive than onshore wind, but even 10% this is 4.8 GW. Thus, the combination of on and offshore wind should be easily capable of supplying NY's electricity.
A note on PV
For all of these electricity options, as well as some minor amounts of PV (200 MW on a delivered basis, mostly targeted at shaving down peak summer loads), a pricing system based on cost to produce plus a reasonable profit needs to be adopted. Failing that, renewable electricity will continue to be tied for polluting electricity prices (nukes, coal, Ngas), which means that only a small fraction of the renewable potential is likely to be financeable and installable. Thus, of the combined 74 GW (on a delivered basis, NOT capacity basis), less than 2% might be installed with the current subsidies and quotas. Obviously, that's not much of a plan, or a future, for that matter.
Solar prices can be compared and viewed at the Solarbuzz website. Prices required for a for "cloudy" areas (such as Western NY, which has about a 50% sunny/50% cloudy-raining-snowing arrangement) for a single homeowner to justify a $16,000 investment for a 2 kw system are near 76 c/kw-hr. According to this site, prices have dropped at a rate of 1.57% per year over the last 9 years. Furthermore, the use of the 5%/yr for 20 years interest rate for such investments is highly questionable - rates are typically higher and for shorter periods of time. Given the vast discrepancy between PV and grid pricing, either a Feed-In Law or governmental subsidies are required for PV. And given the dire state of NY government finances (more money out than in, resistance to tax increases on wealthy people via paid for politicians, etc), additional subsidies from NY State are unlikely. Nevertheless, there is a 25% NY State tax credit capped at a $5000 maximum level for PV and solar hot water systems. Significant Federal subsidies do exist, but those also come at a cost. The dominant ones for residential systems is the 30% tax credit (again, taxes need to be paid to collect this one); however, getting a "rebate" of 30% of the cost to install such systems (from $8000/kwp to $5600/kwp) will lessen the pain/financial loss, but not greatly incentivize such arrangements. residential yields of 10% of peak rating in NY seems to be indicated by this NYSERDA study.
Reflections on the People's Climate March in London
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