In this week's Newsletter: Shared solar makes a big splash in New York, why this week's snowstorm turned out to be less than historic, solar sails may make space travel more possible, and much more!
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Blue Skies Ahead for Shared Solar in New York

Whether they rent their home, own a condo or have a shaded roof, many New Yorkers are currently unable to install solar energy systems. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, only 22-27% of residential roof space is suitable for on-site solar production. This leaves the majority of homes in the dark, without the economic and environmental benefits associated with solar.

2015 could be the year this changes.

Last week, Governor Cuomo’s 2015 Opportunity Agenda highlighted Shared Solar, also known as community net metering, as a way for millions of people to go solar for the first time. A shared renewable energy program would allow all electricity customers, including renters, to subscribe to local solar energy projects and get a credit on their electricity bills for their portion of the clean power produced. This would allow all New Yorkers to access the benefits of solar that eligible homeowners have long enjoyed, including lower, stable energy bills, a reduced carbon footprint, and a leading role in building healthier communities.

You can read the rest of the article on the Solar One Blog here.

To learn more about Shared Solar in NYC, please contact Elana Bulman at

What Happened to Our Blizzard?

The snow has fallen, the sky has cleared, the trains are running and New Yorkers are pissed off. It must be Wednesday!

After being told that we could see as much as 3 feet of snow between Monday and Tuesday, many people were disappointed that the blizzard missed us, dumping the bulk of its wrath to the east. 

So considering that modern meteorology can now use a myriad of tools to predict weather patterns, including radar and satellite imaging, why do forecasts still go so horribly wrong?

According to Climate Central, the forecast was basically spot on- Juno was a major winter storm that did indeed dump 20+ inches of snow- just not for NYC. As it moved toward us on Monday, it turned out to be more compact and tracked farther to the east than originally anticipated. The bands of very heavy snow were quite narrow, and instead of stalling over the city as originally forecast, the storm just nicked us with its western edge before moving on to pummel Long Island and Boston.

So this time, we went home early, shut down mass transit overnight and raided the supermarkets for nothing. But if we hadn't done those things and the snow had fallen as predicted, how much louder would the complaining be today (see 2010, when 400 people got stranded at subway stations because the city was too copacetic about the forecast)?

Sailing Through Space on Sunlight

Solar photovoltaics have been used in space since Bell Labs developed the first commercial solar cell in the 1950s. But now we may be on the verge of figuring out how to use sunlight to power interstellar travel. 

This May, the Planetary Society, a non profit dedicated to promoting space travel, will launch two small spacecrafts equipped with solar sails to test the new technology.

Solar sails are made of Mylar, and unfurl from the size of a bread loaf to a pretty substantial 345 sq ft over the course of a month of testing. 

If successful, solar sails could revolutionize space exploration by eliminating the need for heavy fuels and could potentially help us in manned explorations of Mars.

Of course, our sun would not be able to provide enough photons for Star Trek-like galactic missions, but someday a laser might be able to. How that laser would be powered is of course still an open question, but the technology may still provide the most promising clues to manned space travel. You can read the whole story from the New York Times here.

Upcoming Events at Solar 1

There are currently no upcoming events.
See you in the spring!

Other Events

The Green Sanctuary Committee Book Group Discussion
The Gallery, 28 East 35th Street bet Park & Madison Aves, Manhattan, 6:30-8am, free

Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Public Meeting
Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street at West Street, Manhattan, 3pm & 6pm- Information Session, 4pm & 7pm- Public Statement Hearing, free

Book Launch: Sustainability Policy - Hastening the Transition to a Cleaner Economy
Columbia University, Morningside Campus, International Affairs Building, Kellogg Center, Room 1501, Manhattan, 6-8pm, free

Get NYSERDA Financial Incentives for Your Passive House Project
Trespa Showroom, 62 Greene Street bet Spring & Broome Sts, Manhattan, 6:30-7:30pm, free for NYPH members/$10 for non-members

Columbia University Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy (MPA ESP) Online Information Session
Online, 2-3pm, free

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