Highlights

  • Created a roadmap for resilient solar in New York City (NYC) that can be replicated for New York State (NYS) and across the U.S.
  • Addressed and reduced the barriers of growth for the resilient solar PV sector in NYS.
  • Developed a Critical Infrastructure Resilience Guide identifying best practices for increasing the resilience of key municipal operations and infrastructure.
  • Expanded the NYS Solar Calculator to include a solar map identifying areas in NYC for resilient solar PV.
  • Created and disseminated case studies with developers of resilient solar systems for critical infrastructure and resilient PV with microgrid integration or islanding capability.

Background

Since 2006, Sustainable CUNY has worked with stakeholders to address and reduce barriers to large-scale solar deployment, growing solar in NYC from less than 1MW to 29MW, with an additional 30MW in the pipeline. However, the majority of deployed solar is not equipped with smart inverters and storage capacity, leaving the city unable to harness this generated solar during emergencies and blackouts.

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, causing widespread power loss across the city. The City University of New York (CUNY) found that 672 solar arrays in NYC were unable to provide power during the outage—about 6500kWh—that could have been used to power critical loads across the five boroughs. Many of CUNY’s facilities—which were utilized as emergency shelters for 2,700 of NYC’s 9,000 evacuees—faced fuel shortages that affected vehicles, backup generators, and buildings. Resilient solar PV on emergency shelters and hospitals provides alternative power and acts as fuel multipliers to generators that cannot always be refueled. Even the addition of solar-powered charging stations and resilient inverters with outlets could alleviate challenges during times of emergency. Following Hurricane Sandy, support strengthened for the development of resilient distributed generation (DG) and storage in NYC from various stakeholders, including new and existing solar customers. The city, however, lacks a template to implement this new infrastructure.

In 2013, Sustainable CUNY formed the Smart DG Hub to strategize pathways to integrate DG into emergency and resilience planning. During working meetings for local, regional, and federal agencies and key stakeholders, the group agreed that NYC would benefit from a coordinated focus on incorporating DG into emergency and resiliency planning, and that there was a strong need to align policies and incentives to trigger the development of resilient PV. Through SMP, Sustainable CUNY and its partners worked to streamline costs and create scalable, replicable models for communities across the U.S. The project team aimed to create guidelines for resilient PV codes, regulations, and technologies; develop a cost-reduction pathway and framework; and broaden the adoption of the framework on both the state and national level.

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a fundamental component of CUNY’s SMP project. During the first year, the team focused heavily on bringing all necessary partners to the table, facilitating dialogue, and understanding potential challenges. To address the main challenges identified by these partners, the team formed four working groups: policy and legal, hardware technologies, software and communication technologies, and economics and finance. Throughout the project, stakeholders have participated in working group meetings, quarterly advisory board meetings, and special events such as a solar installer workshop and a distributed generation roundtable held at the request of the Fire Department of New York.

Resources and Research

CUNY created a set of reports and factsheets capturing and summarizing key issues to provide installers, utilities, policy makers, and consumers with information about resilient hardware and design and the economics of solar+storage systems:

  • Resilient PV Hardware outlines resilient PV system designs and components, including a detailed battery comparison table listing usage types, lifetimes, costs, safety, and other characteristics.
  • Economics and Finance of Solar+Storage provides solar installers and the general public with an understanding of the economic and financial considerations of solar+storage systems in NYC, including financing options, tax incentives, utility bill impacts, and potential payment or revenue streams.
  • Smart Grid Communications discusses the available software product options for the development and implementation of resilient PV and microgrids that can provide cost savings, resilience, and grid services. The primary focus is monitoring and controls software, including software capabilities of advanced inverters.
  • Resilient PV Retrofit and Storage Ready Guidelines provides information to installers, utilities, policy makers, and consumers on how to add an energy storage system to existing solar PV systems to create resilient PV or make new PV systems storage ready.
  • To make these fact sheets accessible to a wide audience, the CUNY team provided a companion glossary to explain commonly used technical terms and provide a translation of some of the more technical aspects of the factsheets.
  • The CUNY team also produced The Energy Storage System Permitting and Interconnection Guide for NYC, which summarizes the permitting and interconnection process for valve-regulated lead-acid battery energy storage systems in NYC, outlining the various approvals required by municipal authorities including the Department of Building, the Fire Department of New York City, and Con Edison.

The Economic and Resiliency Impacts of PV and Storage on New York Critical Infrastructure report, written in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, provides private and public building managers, resilient PV industry professionals, and policymakers with a better understanding of the economic and resilience benefits of resilient PV. The report analyzes the technical and financial viability of solar+storage installation at three critical infrastructure sites in the city: a school that serves as part of a coast storm shelter system, a fire station that was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and a NYC Housing Authority senior center that serves as a cooling center during emergencies. Using the REopt modeling platform, the team selected the optimal sizes and types of resilient power systems for each of the three sites.

The CUNY team also conducted a survey of solar+storage market participants—including energy storage and solar developers, energy advisers, engineering consultants, environmental advocates, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations—in New York to better understand the impacts of soft costs on the overall costs of deploying solar+storage systems. The Summary of Results: Solar and Storage Cost Survey examines the results of this survey, which indicate the resilient solar market is likely to grow, though cost for solar+storage systems are significant and permitting is a key driver of soft costs.

Resources

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Webinar:
Resilient Solar Retrofits: Adding ... Resilient Solar Retrofits: Adding Storage to Existing PV and Making New Installations Storage Ready
Author:  Clean Energy Group

NREL and CUNY provide guidance on retrofitting existing solar PV with storage and how to reduce future costs by making new PV installations “storage ready.”

Tool:
Resilient Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Systems Resilient Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Systems
Author:  NY Solar Smart DG Hub

This fact sheet outlines resilient PV system designs and components, including a detailed battery comparison table with usage types, lifetime, costs, safety, and other characteristics.

Tool:
Economics and Finance of Solar+Storage Economics and Finance of Solar+Storage
Author:  NY Solar Smart DG Hub

A summary of the economic and finance considerations of solar+storage in NYC, including financing options, tax incentives, utility bill impacts and potential payment/revenue streams.

Tool:
Smart Grid Communications Smart Grid Communications
Author:  NY Solar Smart DG Hub

A summary of the software product options to support resilient PV and microgrids with a focus on monitoring and controls software, including software capabilities of advanced inverters.

Tool:
Resilient PV Retrofit and Storage Ready Guidelines Resilient PV Retrofit and Storage Ready Guidelines
Author:  NY Solar Smart DG Hub

A resource for installers, utilities, policy makers, and consumers on how to add energy storage to an existing solar PV systems or make new PV systems “storage ready.”

 
Tool:
CUNY Glossary CUNY Glossary
Author:  NY Solar Smart DG Hub

Developed by the NY Solar Smart DG Hub, this glossary explains commonly used technical terms related to solar and battery storage.

 
Tool:
The Energy Storage System Permitting and Interconnection Guide ... The Energy Storage System Permitting and Interconnection Guide for NYC
Author:  NY Solar Smart DG Hub

The guide summarizes the permitting and interconnection process for valve-regulated lead-acid battery energy storage systems in NYC, outlining the approvals that must be obtained.

 
Report:
Summary of Results: Solar and Storage Cost Survey Summary of Results: Solar and Storage Cost Survey
Author:  NY Solar Smart DG Hub

This report summarizes the findings of a 2015 survey of the NY solar industry regarding the costs, revenues, and other economic factors affecting solar and storage projects.

 
Report:
Economic and Resiliency Impacts of PV and Storage on New York ... Economic and Resiliency Impacts of PV and Storage on New York Critical Infrastructure
Author:  NREL

This report explores the economic and resilience benefits of solar+storage and analyzes the technical and financial viability of projects at three critical infrastructure sites in NYC.

 

NY Solar Roadmap and Portal

As a culmination of their research and work with stakeholders, Sustainable CUNY released the New York City Resilient Solar Roadmap in March 2017. The roadmap is a five to seven year strategic plan for expanding the resilient solar PV market in NYC and opening up pathways to increase the integration of energy storage into NYC’s power grid. It identifies a series of strategies for addressing the key barriers to solar+storage in hardware, software, economics, and policy with the goal of increasing the deployment of resilient solar installations that can operate during power outages.

The NY Solar Map and Portal is a dynamic tool that estimates the solar potential of rooftops or land across all of NYS and helps New Yorkers realize their solar potential through detailed technical and economic calculations. The portal, which includes a layer showing current storage installations in the city, will also serve as a valuable tool for exploring storage options. In 2017, two calculator tools will be published. One tool will provide information on the emergency backup capacity of a solar+storage system for consumers and another will provide an initial estimate of financial savings from demand management for commercial consumers. Another map layer will display ideal locations for resilient PV installations to yield the most resilience benefits to the city.

Solar+Storage Workshops

A key aspect of building a mature solar+storage market is training stakeholders, including installers, developers, policymakers, and permitting authorities. Through this project, CUNY provides training on key topics, such as installation and installer training. In March 2016, they hosted the New York City Solar Installer Workshop to provide guidance on navigating local agencies and the processes for interconnection and permitting for solar+storage systems. Over 100 installers attended this day-long workshop, which drew participation from Con Edison, the NYC Department of Buildings, and the Fire Department of New York. Another installer training focused on solar+storage was held in March 2017.

Next Steps

Throughout 2017, CUNY will conduct four additional trainings for the installer community and five trainings for municipal and state code officials, along with eight online and in-person workshops, focused on the NYC Resilient PV Roadmap. These events will disseminate the project’s resources and policy information statewide to help the public and private sectors understand the factors involved in incorporating energy storage in resilience planning and to prepare for the growth of the energy storage market.

The final year of the project will also be dedicated to the publication of case study findings and lessons learned, and the addition of the resilience components of the Solar Calculator and new map layer to the New York State Solar Map and Portal.