NYC Solar Hub to Bring Solar to Cities Worldwide

In an innovative project to bring solar to cities across the world and reduce the costs of solar, New York City is creating a Solar Energy Hub. 

Using IBM’s intelligent software platform for Smarter Cities, the output of every solar system in the city can be seen in real time, giving crucial information on whether that’s enough energy to offset costly upgrades to the grid or use fossil fuel  generators during peak usage periods.

CUNY Ventures, a City University of New York (CUNY) Economic Development Corporation, will be able to monitor and analyze solar production and capacity through the NYC Solar Portal on the web.

They’ll be able to fine-tune current resource use, quickly identify barriers, foster inter-agency permitting and tracking, solar empowerment zones, and a NYC Solar Map – which shows existing solar PV and solar thermal installations in the city and estimates the solar PV potential for every, single rooftop (1 million in NYC). 

Included in the individual calculations for every building is how much solar can be installed, how much power that will generate, how much can be saved on an annual electricity bill, how many pounds of carbon emissions can be reduced each year, and what the equivalent would be in planting trees.

A built-in financial calculator provides a cost break down and payback time- a surprising 5-7 years for most installations with the current incentives in place. The Map also provides practical information and steps for installing solar.

For starters, five state and city organizations will use the tools:  NY State Energy Research and Development Authority, Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Economic Development Corporation and the local utility, Con Ed. 

After the first year, it will be expanded to other major jurisdictions in NY State with a goal of creating standards and streamlining the permitting process.

CUNY Ventures also plans to extend the model to apply to other kinds of renewable energy and to other city services, such as water, energy management and transportation.

"As people migrate to urban centers in greater numbers, demand increases on city infrastructure and resources," says Craig Hayman, general manager for IBM Industry Solutions. "Intelligent automation of key services such as energy, water, transportation and public safety is the solution to help meet these new challenges. Developing leadership in sustainable resources, as New York is doing with solar energy, serves as a model for meeting citizens’ needs while achieving the operational goals of the city."

The Department of Energy’s Rooftop Solar Challenge, which is part of its Sunshot Initiative, is partially funding the effort as part of its goal to streamline solar installations to make solar cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.

IBM is also adapting its Smarter Buildings software for the US Airforce to maximize energy efficiency across its entire infrastructure in 170 locations around the world.

And IBM is working with Ireland’s Sustainable Energy Authority to develop software that measures how much noise wave energy makes in the ocean to minimize environmental impacts.

NYC is launchng an Energy App this summer that lets residents control their air conditioners remotely.  

Here’s the NYC Solar Map:

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