Albany, NY — New York can increase its use of renewable energy and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, but it cannot do so cheaply or maintain grid reliability, according to a new Empire Center report.  

In order to meet the clean energy goals laid out in the CLCPA, the state would have to spend currently-incalculable sums to overbuild intermittent energy sources.  

Wind and solar have incredibly low capacity factors in New York — 44 percent and 12 percent, respectively. This means that, for example, it would take more than seven gigawatts of nameplate solar capacity to equal the production of a one-gigawatt nuclear or natural gas plant. 

Renewables alone are not reliable in New York, the paper notes, in part due to seasonal variability. To meet demand — and keep New York from experiencing long energy lulls — backup sources of electricity production and storage are necessary. 

New York’s current energy storage capacity is insufficient, the report notes. And alternative methods of clean and reliable energy — including hydropower, nuclear, or renewable natural gas — are either infeasible, politically unpopular, or prohibitively expensive. 

“The goal is inexpensive, reliable and non-polluting electricity production. But we can’t have all three. The practical options are either inexpensive and reliable or reliable and non-polluting,” said James Hanley, author of the paper and senior policy analyst at the Empire Center. “Energy production that meets all three of these demands is not — for the foreseeable future — an available option.” 

Read the full report here.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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