The navy yard’s 3,152 panel rooftop solar array is now the largest renewable energy project in the city

by Evan Monroe

A quiet solar energy milestone was reached in New York City this year but one that could fuel remarkable possibilities for a metro area too long lacking in renewable power investment and/or daunted by bureaucratic hurdles to its implementation residents and businesses now use the power of the sun to generate more than 100 megawatts of electricity. Con Edison customers in the city have completed 9,700 solar projects overall, producing, as of September, 110 megawatts in fact enough to power more than 17,000 homes.

There are hundreds of such installations in Brooklyn, from SITU Studio’s Jay Street solar canopy to the Solaire system at the Whole Foods Market on Third Avenue, but without question the most expansive and a pivotal testbed for more large scale renewable projects—is the 3,152 panel rooftop installation recently completed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (seen above). Part of the de Blasio administration’s goal of generating 100 megawatts of renewable energy on private buildings alone by 2025, the rooftop of Building 293—the city’s largest renewable generating site—has reduced carbon dioxide emissions (versus traditional power generating methods) by 1.4 million pounds and counting, and saves 76,000 gallons of fossil fuels each year.

“We’re doubling jobs at the Navy Yard, and those workers, computers, and machines will need sustainable energy. On rooftops across the city, we’re installing new solar panels to cut emissions, create green jobs, and save money,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“As a home to 300 businesses and growing, we’re always looking for ways to be greener and more energy efficient,” said Brooklyn Navy Yard President and CEO David Ehrenberg. “The Yard is already on the cutting edge of technology and manufacturing, and with this solar installation we are now a leader in renewable energy. As a forward thinking and sustainable home to the technology of tomorrow, we’re proud to contribute to the city’s ambitious renewable energy goal.”

The project was made possible at no cost to the Navy Yard, thanks to $626,000 in New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) incentive funding.

“This project demonstrates the success of solar across New York State as a result of NY Sun, the State’s $1 billion initiative to achieve a thriving solar market,” said John B. Rhodes, NYSERDA’s president and CEO. “Solar in New York State has grown 575 percent between 2012 and 2016, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, growing jobs, and helping the State build a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system.”

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The Mayor’s office has outlined even more ambitious goals, including an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a solar capacity of 1,000 megawatts by 2030, enough to power more than 250,000 households. It also seeks to expand jobs in the solar industry, from the approximately 3,000 current employees to 6,000 in as little as three years.

“Good environmental policy is good economics, “added New York City Economic Development Corp. President Maria Torres Springer.

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