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Friday, February 22, 2013

NYC Can Drastically Help Reduce GHG Emissions

William Pentland
William Pentland, Contributor
All electrons are not created equal.

2/22/2013 @ 12:18AM |1,398 views

New York City's 90x50 Vision: Green Sleight of Hand?

New York City could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 90% at a modest cost by 2050, according to the 90×50 report released last week by the Urban Green Council.
The report claims to “demonstrate that the extreme emission reductions required to minimize climate change are in fact possible [in New York City] using technologies that are known and in almost all cases currently available, and that the cost is within reasonable bounds.”
Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe it does no so such thing.
The Council explains that New York City could reduce GHG emissions by 90 over the next 37 years by “shifting all building loads to electricity, and utilizing carbon-free electricity.” In other words, the 90×50 vision presupposes that electricity provided by the conventional electric grid in New York City will be produced by “carbon-free sources.”  That is a whopper of an assumption.
That this massively important assumption has virtually no basis beyond one or citations only becomes clear in the last two pages of the study, which are quoted from below at length:
In sum, our modeling of a future involving deep but entirely practical retrofits of buildings and mode switching and efficiency improvements in transportation shows that New YorkCity can get by on slightly more electric energy than it is using now, about 57 TWh gross and 46 TWh net of PV production on buildings.
Under the less rigorous scenario with higher infiltration, gross electric energy needed would rise to 60 TWh, and the net to about 49 TWh.
We have indicated that about 57 TWh of carbon-free power are needed, of which rooftopphotovoltaic panels will supply 11 TWh. A serious study of sources for the remaining power is beyond our scope, and, on a larger scale, at least two such studies have already been carried out. Instead, we list several options with brief comments.
Maintain the roughly 19 TWh of carbon-free power the Inventory reports is currently used by New York City. That will leave 27 TWh, all of which can be supplied by:
» 2600 4.0 MW wind turbines, occupying 35 to 40 square miles, either upstate or off shore, or
» 86 million square meters of photovoltaic panels with a footprint of 66 square miles, much of which could be on the parking lots, rail yards, and highways included in New York City’s 350 square miles, or
» 3 or 4 new 1000 MW nuclear power plants (if cost, siting, and waste issues can be resolved), or
» Increased hydropower from Quebec (transmission lines are under construction now), or
» Any combination of the above.
• Also:
» Tidal power is proving itself but remains a development project with modest local potential.
» Solid waste combustion may be able to supply the steam system, cutting electric loads.
This brief survey indicates that supplying carbon-free electric energy to New York City in 2050 is plausible. Far more detailed study is clearly needed.
Urban Green Council, are you serious?