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ASRC Researchers Explore New York’s 100 Percent Renewables Goal

An array of 90 LG 350-watt solar panels powers the Campus Center West addition. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 23, 2020) – Last June, Gov. Cuomo signed one of the nation’s most aggressive pieces of legislation aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), as it’s known, calls for 100 percent carbon-free electricity across New York by 2040.

A new whitepaper published by researchers in UAlbany’s Weather-Climate Enterprise takes a deep dive into what is needed to make this ambitious goal happen.

While the researchers believe that the CLCPA is both logistically and economically attainable, their whitepaper calls for a significant investment in underlying research, along with overbuilding of renewable wind and solar resources. Specifically, the state would need to add 100,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable power to the grid – almost all of it wind and solar – to meet the 38,000 MW that we actually need to power all of New York.

Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) research associates Jeff Freedman and Richard Perez, both co-authors of the whitepaper, detailed their analysis to Susan Arbetter, who is the new anchor for Spectrum News’ daily political show “Capital Tonight.”

“We need to essentially build enough renewable energy to make up for what that is generated from fossil fuels that we are going to lose over the next 20 to 30 years,” Freedman told Arbetter. “With wind and solar you have to overbuild, because you will not be generating that much energy all of the time.”

“One thing about overbuilding is that you can actually reduce the amount of [energy] storage you need,” added Perez. “That’s the catalyst. The reason why you want to overbuild. At the end of the day you have to transform intermittent wind and solar into 24/7 power generation so it feeds power all the time.”

UAlbany’s Weather-Climate Enterprise hosts the largest concentration of atmospheric, climate and environmental scientists in New York – and one of the largest in the nation. Its researchers are heavily involved in foundational research on renewables and, given their location in the state capital, are uniquely positioned to advise policymakers on reaching the milestones set forth in the CLCPA.

Watch Perez and Freedman’s “Capital Tonight” Interview on Spectrum News.

Also listen to Perez and ASRC Interim Director Christopher Thorncroft discuss the whitepaper with David Lombardo on WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom.”

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