Where there is a will, there is a way.
We don’t envy developers trying to find a place to build large-scale solar plants in the most densely populated city in the United States. And we’re impressed that Daroga Power was able to find space for 3,325 PV modules on the roofs of two industrial buildings on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn.
In doing so, Daroga has built the largest community solar project in New York City at 1.2 MW, which will provide electricity to 196 business and households. Part of what helped the company reach this capacity is the use of SunPower modules based on interdigitated back contact (IBC) cell technology, which offer the highest efficiencies of any commercially available modules, meaning more power output per square foot.
The mix of subscribers is also notable, as 70% of accounts are regular residential accounts, 20% small business and 10% low- and moderate income, according to the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Daroga Power Principal David Matt notes that the process of finding roofs to host this project wasn’t easy, and attributes his success to “timing, a little bit of luck and persistence”.
Matt notes that in addition to the challenge of finding “progressive” landlords, his company has had to learn the ropes of community solar. While customers can sign up through gocdg.com for his and other community solar projects, Daroga built had a lot of work to do on the customer side. This included drafting its own contracts, a process that Matt says involved significant legal costs.
But this work may pay off, as Daroga has 10 more large community solar projects that it is building on roofs in New York.
New York competes in community solar
NYSERDA provided $850,000 in funding for the project through the NY-Sun program, and this is one of the more than 84,000 PV projects that NYSERDA has supported to date. The agency estimates that there are more than 5,000 projects currently in the pipeline, including 700 MW of community solar – a volume that could put New York on par with national community solar leaders Massachusetts and Minnesota.
And while there is still a long way to go to reach Governor Cuomo’s mandate that the state’s utilities procure 50% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030 – let alone the 100% by 2040 that he is proposing as part of his legislative agenda – New York has become the third-largest market for distributed solar in the first six months of 2018.