Solar Dominates Wind in New York’s Latest Renewable Procurement

Two years ago, when New York state announced the first round of
winners in its annual renewable energy procurements, upstate wind
farms were the star of the show — including one of the largest
wind projects ever put forward east of the Mississippi River.

Jump to today, and solar utterly dominated New York’s latest
onshore renewables round, reflecting the general direction in which
the U.S. power market is expected to move over the next few
years.

In its third annual land-based renewables round, the New York
State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA,
selected 21 large-scale projects totaling 1.3 gigawatts to receive
around $1 billion of state support. The projects will be built over
the next few years.

The list of winners includes just one large wind project — a
145-megawatt development backed by Terra-Gen — alongside a
handful of refurbishments of existing wind farms, known as
repowerings, that will add only a small amount of new generating
capacity.

The rest of the projects are all large-scale solar arrays, from
a series of 20-megawatt projects to the massive 270-megawatt South
Ripley solar development in western New York that will be built
with 20 megawatt-hours of storage by developer ConnectGen.

Other big winners include NextEra Energy Resources, which went
home with 380 megawatts of solar capacity spread across two
projects, and SunEast Development, whose haul includes eight
projects totaling 220 megawatts. The round also saw the launch of
Canadian renewables developer Boralex into the U.S. solar market,
with four projects totaling 180 megawatts.

Wind fighting the tide of solar

2020 is expected to be the biggest year in history for American
wind farm construction, as developers take advantage of the final
year to complete projects qualified for the 100 percent production
tax credit (PTC).

Wood Mackenzie believes around 15 gigawatts of U.S. wind will
be built this year, although the global COVID-19 pandemic could
trip some projects up — potentially leading to calls for
additional time to meet the PTC deadline.

Beyond the current PTC-induced boom, however, the U.S. onshore
wind market faces headwinds. Much of the industry’s excitement is
shifting offshore.

Wind projects accounted for 53 percent of the total capacity
allocated in New York’s 2018 procurement, falling to 37 percent
in the 2019 round, and just 15 percent this year. The phasedown of
the wind PTC means there are fewer projects entering the
development pipeline across the country.

New York has around 2 gigawatts of operating wind capacity
today, more than any other East Coast state. And there are a number
of big wind projects rumbling through development in upstate New
York backed by heavyweight developers — notably Invenergy’s
head-turning 370-megawatt Alle-Catt project, won in NYSERDA’s
2018 tender.

But the rising dominance of solar in New York’s procurements
points to large-scale PV’s growing cost-competitiveness against
wind even in markets not known for their sunshine. Solar projects
can be easier to site, permit and construct than wind farms, and
they pair more naturally with energy storage — another
big priority for New York
.

NYSERDA says the winning bids for state support have fallen 23
percent since its first procurement round.

Cuomo looks to streamline permitting

Big state-organized renewables procurements are rare in the
United States; more typically, developers of large-scale projects
look to sign offtake deals with utilities or increasingly with
corporate buyers.

But New York, which operates its own grid, has taken a different
tack, embracing annual procurement rounds to help catalyze its
onshore market on the way to the state’s 70 percent
renewable target for 2030.

NYSERDA’s onshore procurements come on top of New York’s
nation-leading offshore wind target of 9 gigawatts by 2035.

So far, the onshore procurements have seen the state backing 67
projects totaling more than 4.3 gigawatts, a huge rush of
development activity that will double the state’s existing wind
and solar capacity.

In recognition of the difficulty of permitting big energy
infrastructure projects in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently
announced plans to
create an Office of Renewable Energy Permitting
to help
streamline planning decisions.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Solar Dominates Wind in New York’s Latest Renewable Procurement