Project Name: NYSolar Smart DG Hub – Resilient Solar Project
Project Website: https://www.nysolarmap.com/solarplusstorage/
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, as the majority of deployed solar is not equipped with smart inverters and storage capacity, the city is unable to harness this generated solar during emergencies and blackouts.
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit NYC hard, causing widespread power loss across the city. The City University of New York (CUNY) found that during the outage, 672 solar arrays in NYC were unable to provide power—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 a fuel multiplier 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, there has been strong support for the development of resilient distributed generation (DG) and storage in NYC from 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 came to the consensus 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 Solar Market Pathways, Sustainable CUNY and its partners are working to streamline costs and create scalable, replicable models for the U.S. The project team aims 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 is a fundamental component of CUNY’s Solar Market Pathways project. During the first year, the team focused heavily on bringing all of the necessary partners to the table to facilitate dialogue and understand potential challenges. From there, the team formed four working groups covering the largest challenges to implementing resilient PV: 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.
CUNY has created a set of reports and factsheets that help capture and summarize key issues to provide installers, utilities, policy makers, and consumers with information about resilient hardware and design and the economics of solar+storage systems:
To make these factsheets 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. The guide summarizes the permitting and interconnection process for valve-regulated lead-acid battery energy storage systems in NYC, outlining the various approvals that must be obtained from 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 analyzed 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 flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and a NYC Housing Authority senior center that serves as a cooling center during emergencies. Through the use of the REopt modeling platform, the optimal sizes and types of resilient power systems were selected for each of the three sites.
The CUNY team also conducted a survey of solar and storage market participants in New York in order to better understand the impacts of soft costs on the overall costs of deploying solar+storage systems. Respondents included energy storage and solar developers, energy advisers, engineering consultants, environmental advocates, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The Summary of Results: Solar and Storage Cost Survey provides the results of this survey, which indicate that 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.
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 to provide information on the emergency backup capacity of a solar+storage system for consumers and another to provide an initial estimate of financial savings from demand management for commercial consumers. Another map layer will also be added to display ideal locations for resilient PV installations to yield the most resilience benefits to the city.
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.
Throughout 2017, CUNY will conduct four additional trainings for the installer community and five trainings for municipal and state code officials, along with eight workshops (online and in-person), specifically focused on the NYC Resilient PV Roadmap. These events will serve to disseminate the previously developed resources and policy information statewide to help the public and private sector understand the factors involved in incorporating energy storage into resiliency planning and to prepare for the growth of the energy storage market more generally.
Additionally, the final year of the project will be dedicated to the publication of case study findings and lessons learned, and the resiliency components of the Solar Calculator and new map layer will go live on the New York State Solar Map and Portal.