Lady Liberty Lit by Ocean Windfarm: Mayor Bloomberg Envisions Green Energy Future for NYC
photo by Yan Chow
Highlighting many of the same points made by Bill Clinton at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke about his vision for building green power in New York and for the country in general. You can read a full transcript of his speech here, but here are some choice highlights:
Conservation Alone Not Enough
Conservation alone isn't enough. We also need to dramatically step up the production of clean energy for our growing city and economy. For example, I believe that we've got to be willing to do what some other nations - such as France - have already done, and increase our capacity of safe and clean nuclear-generated power.
We also have to accept that a lot of alternative power projects now on the drawing boards won't produce their first kilowatts of electricity for many years. But we still have to reach into our own pockets now, or our children won't have the benefits 10 to 15 years in the future.
Windfarms Atop NYC Bridges and Skyscrapers
The Mayor announced that a ‘Request for Expressions of Interest’ has been sent out to solicit ideas for renewable energy projects in New York City.
Such projects might, for example, be designed to draw power from the tides of the Hudson and East Rivers - something we're already doing on a pilot basis. They might call for dramatically increasing rooftop solar power production, which we've estimated could meet nearly 20 percent of the City's need for electricity. They could tap into geothermal energy. In fact, some private home and building owners have already drilled their own 'heat wells.' Or perhaps companies will want to put windfarms atop our bridges and skyscrapers, or use the enormous potential of powerful off-shore winds miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, where turbines could generate roughly twice the energy that land-based windfarms can. Windfarms located far off our shores, some evidence shows, could meet 10 percent of our city's electricity needs within a decade.
More than 100 years ago, a new statue standing tall in New York Harbor gave our nation its greatest symbol of freedom. In this century, that freedom is being undermined by dependence on foreign oil. So I think it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants, but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean windfarm.
We Haven’t Been Honest About the True Cost of Fossil Fuels
Free enterprise will help us meet those goals because our incomparable free enterprise system is based on the power of the marketplace. For too long, however, the market for energy has been skewed. Because we haven't been honest about the true costs of dirty energy, we've endangered our health, polluted our air, undermined our national security, and, now, threatened the future of our world. If we were honest with ourselves about these ignored but all-too real costs, the price of these dirty fuels would be vastly higher. If we were honest, the marketplace today - not ten years from now, but today - would make solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative fuels cost-effective and economically viable.
A Good Start, but the Devil's in the Details
Obviously this is all more of an inspirational speech than anything else. For that, I applaud the Mayor, but much of this is much more easily said than done: While it might sound like a good idea to put wind turbines on buildings, putting them offshore (as the Mayor has also suggested) is probably a better idea; geothermal energy, such as Google is investigating, is a much different thing than the heat pumps talked about here; rooftop solar is probably the easiest of the options presented here, in that it can be built incrementally and won’t require the massive permitting process that offshore wind will have.
Even more than that, I’m glad that the Mayor said straight out that the energy market has been skewed because the environmental externalities of burning fossil fuels have not been incorporated into their price. As we says, if we internalize these costs, the current cost differential between conventional power sources and their green alternatives is likely to close.
:: NYC Mayor's Office
10 Steps Bill Clinton Believes the US Government Should Do for a Clean Energy Future
Google Gets Behind Geothermal, Invests Over $10 Million in Research
Jargon Watch: Geothermal vs Ground Source Heat Pump