New York has the wind in its sails as it embarks on a voyage to build a new industry that will generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in benefits for New Yorkers. Its home is located right here off the coast of Long Island. Thanks to strong political leadership, ambitious clean energy and climate policy, and innovative technological solutions, the Empire State is positioning itself as the regional hub for offshore wind development. New York now has five offshore wind projects in active development — the largest offshore wind pipeline in the nation.
This is positive news in the face of increased extreme weather events due to climate change, and will help efforts to spur our economy heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The negative news is that we are in a race against time, and we need a pathway to accelerate our use of clean energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to stave off the worst impacts of global warming.
In 2019, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the most aggressive set of clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets in the nation. We are held by this law to achieve 70% clean electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2040. The state currently has 28% renewable energy in its electricity mix.
So, how to hit those ambitious targets in such a short time frame? Offshore wind being developed right here on Long Island is part of the solution, provided we can overcome shortsighted local resistance that challenges virtually all new energy infrastructure in this country. We will need new battery solutions to balance this intermittent power. Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory host some of the best scientific minds on battery research, developing large “grid-scale” batteries that can handle more power, efficiently, for longer periods, and at lower cost.
Another key piece is the delivery of clean hydropower directly into downstate New York, New York City and Long Island, where 90% of our electricity comes from fossil fuels. Vast dams and resources in Canada provide long-term, fixed-cost, carbon-free energy that is always available, the perfect balance to the intermittent nature of wind and solar. Similarly, the newest natural gas-fired plants are remarkably efficient, always available, and capable of running on gas/hydrogen blends for lower carbon emissions. Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced the Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission project to bring existing hydro from Canada to the downstate region. This always-available “dispatchable” power will support our expansion of an entirely new renewable power industry on Long Island.