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

Apr 10, 2013

A recent study outlines a scenario that would see New York state’s energy infrastructure based on close to 100 percent renewable sources by the 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 civil and environmental engineering, Anthony Ingraffea.

Ingraffea says the report is aimed at the state’s energy stakeholders and he argues that current regulations are slowing down the pace of converting energy 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. Forty percent of all new electricity generation in the United States in 2012 came from wind and solar. The last month [in] 2012, the first month of 2013, 100 percent of all new electricity generation in the United States came from renewables,” says Ingraffea.

Ingraffea says that the wind, water, sunlight combination is not the future, but the present. He says that renewables are a profitable technology that is available now and has the ability to create new jobs.

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

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

“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,” says Ingraffea.

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