New York offers $18M in grants for clean energy solutions

New York is providing $18.1 million for research and development grants as part of an effort to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

It’s seeking proposals that will lead to the state’s ability to scale sustainable solutions to reach its goal.

In a statement Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said the money “will help attract companies with cutting-edge technologies, knowledge, and products to lower carbon emissions and create a more resilient, cleaner future for New Yorkers.”

A law signed in 2019 requires a 40% reduction from 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and at least 85% below 1990 levels by 2050. The broader aim is to encourage net-zero emissions, and the law allows for the remaining 15% to be reduced directly or offset through projects that remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

New York is among the 24 states that have adopted greenhouse gas targets, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, an environmental think tank.

Other New York climate law mandates include a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040 and 70% renewable energy generation by 2030.

The state suffered a setback in curbing electricity generation emissions after it shuttered the Indian Point nuclear plant’s second reactor in 2021, which led to a surge in fossil fuel use, according to the New York Independent System Operator. The move resulted in a 12% increase in electricity production from fossil fuels in the downstate region between 2020 and 2021.

A report released in September from the NYISO identified some of the factors that must be addressed to reach the 2040 goal. Those include new technologies — such as hydrogen or other zero-emission sources, perhaps used in combination — that could be used to back up renewable sources that tend to be sporadic, such as solar. Some of those solutions could be supported by the newly announced grant funding.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which will administer the funding, said potential solutions could include methods to increase carbon sequestration, reduce waste methane emissions, and support the needs of New York’s building stock, particularly for building shell retrofits and new construction that are key to achieving New York’s energy conservation goals.

Grant proposals could also help with a mandate that at least 35% of the state’s climate program benefits go to historically disadvantaged communities. Those include novel approaches to optimize land use to increase carbon sequestration, resilience and renewable energy deployment, reducing air and water pollution, providing cost savings for energy services, and stimulating job creation in climate smart industries.

The research and development authority is accepting applications through Nov. 29.