The New York Power Authority announced this week that it is dedicating $30 million to research and development work aimed at reducing the cost of solar energy.
The authority’s new Solar Market Acceleration program will spend $30 million over five years in a first-of-its-kind statewide program.
“This is in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to build the solar industry in New York while also keeping an eye on the effect it has on ratepayers,” said Guy Sliker, director of renewable energy research and technology for the authority.
The program will focus on solar photovoltaics, Sliker said.
He doesn’t expect the research to result in cost reductions on the panels themselves as in reductions to associated costs for things like racking, components, inverters and soft costs like installation, grid integration and permitting.
“We’re going to take a fairly broad look at first,” he said.
The first step will be benchmarking the industry, Sliker said. Researchers will be looking at the industry to see what the costs are today, how they’re trending, where they’re expected to be in 10 or 20 years and where cost can be controlled or reduced.
In the beginning, Sliker said, he expects most of the research to be in-house, though the authority will likely issue requests for proposals at some point if researchers identify specific cost-savings projects that need additional expertise.
Sliker said he didn’t know of any other states creating a similar program on such a large scale. He said it most resembled the United States Department of Energy’s Sunshot program.
There is also a New York City program that has gained some notoriety recently for trying to spread solar more broadly across the metropolis.
“This will be more of a statewide focus,” Sliker said.
The authority’s research will address both residential and utility-scale projects, but with slightly greater focus on residential installations.