Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework: Options to Advance Industry Growth and Markets in New York

NYSERDA has released its policy framework discussion options and strategies for accelerating growth of the renewable heating and cooling market.

Thermal energy for space heating and cooling, domestic hot water, and process heating is primarily provided by natural gas, propane and oil and accounts for nearly a third of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New York State.  Achieving New York’s GHG targets of 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels—as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy—will require major investment in reducing thermal energy emissions.

Renewable heating and cooling technologies (RH&C) can provide GHG emissions reductions, energy bill savings, and increased comfort levels and health and other environmental benefits when compared to conventional technologies. New York State has previously offered support for some RH&C technologies through the Renewable Heat NY Program for high-efficiency biomass heating systems and through the (now-expired) Solar Thermal Program. Until now, however, a comprehensive statewide strategy to decarbonizing thermal energy had yet to emerge.

Meister Consultants Group supported the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) with the development of New York State’s Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework. The framework assesses the state of the market and lays out a range of policy options for driving RH&C market development in New York. A detailed supply curve model as well as a cost reduction model were built to test a range of market scenarios and renewable thermal technologies. These models, as well as input from a Cost and Cost Reductions Advisory Committee informed the development of policy options. As a first step towards implementing a broader strategy to address thermal energy emissions, Governor Cuomo announced in February 2017 a proposal for $15 million rebate program to incentivize the installation of ground-source heat pump systems across the state.

The NYSERDA policy framework, the “Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework: Options to Advance Industry Growth and Markets in New York,” outlines short term policy options and market-based solutions and identifies approaches for longer term action. ​In addition to discussing the rebate, the framework identifies options to lower technology costs, reduce barriers, and grow the market. These include:

  • Additional incentive program structures, including performance-based incentives and integration of RH&C into New York’s renewable portfolio standard
  • Building and utility mandates for RH&C
  • Community-based outreach, education, and bulk procurement programs and development of other tools to improve customer targeting and co-location/clustering of installations
  • Standardization of equipment specification and design approaches
  • Exploring opportunities to broaden the availability of low-cost financing options and pilot third-party ownership models for RH&C
  • Developing a unified and streamlined permitting process across New York municipalities
  • Reducing project development risks by providing technical assistance for feasibility and engineering studies
  • Integrating RH&C into existing trade and distribution channels
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