Financing & Incentives

Solar Thermal Pilot Program

A competitive pilot grant program that provided financial assistance to City-based building owners for installing solar hot water systems.

Background

New York City is the most favorable market for solar thermal technologies in the state.  With high energy costs and an abundance of sunlight, NYC is ideal for cost-competitive, renewable energy solutions.  By using sunlight to heat water, solar thermal systems displace carbon-emitting, fossil fuels that are traditionally used to produce domestic hot water.  For an average NYC family, solar thermal systems have the potential to provide up to 75% of their hot water needs.  

Developing the solar thermal market has the potential to drive economic growth in New York City’s clean technology and energy sector while contributing to the City’s comprehensive energy efforts.  Solar thermal technologies are mature and provide high energy production with relatively low capital costs.  However, despite a strong opportunity, solar thermal has seen slow growth in NYC.  The Solar Thermal Pilot Program provided a framework to identify and analyze market constraints and to develop best practices in order to foster a robust and sustainable marketplace in New York City.

Program Objectives

NYCEDC launched the Solar Thermal Pilot Program in 2009, offering grants of 30% of installation costs up to $50,000 per solar thermal system to NYC-based building owners. The Solar Thermal Pilot Program had three primary objectives:

  • Monitor the performance and determine the potential for solar thermal in NYC
  • Identify the financial, technical, and regulatory barriers limiting growth 
  • Develop standards and best practices for a sustainable and robust marketplace 

Through a competitive application process, NYCEDC selected several projects across a diverse spectrum of building types and locations.  All systems installed under the program were equipped with performance monitoring equipment.  Four systems were completed under the pilot.  At the completion of the program, NYCEDC evaluated system performance and identified key next steps to facilitate solar thermal market growth in NYC. 

For more information on the Solar Thermal Pilot Program's findings and recommendations, please read NYCEDC's final report, Solar Thermal in New York City: Opportunities + Challenges.

Project Locations

Foxhurst, Bronx

Solar Panels

Building: 27,000 square foot, multi-family, residential built in 2007 with 5 stories and 30 units.
Hot water consumption: 4,000 gallons daily
System: Commissioned in November 2010, 20 flat plate collectors, occupying 800 square feet of the building’s rooftop.
Annual production: 2,000 therms, providing 45% of hot water used.
Displaces: 23,104 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Annual savings: $718 

Jamaica Hills, Queens

Solar Panels

Building: Multi-family residential built in 1938 with 6 stories, 88 units, and 85,000 square feet.
Hot water consumption: 3,000 gallons daily
System: Commissioned in July 2011, 44 evacuated tube collectors, occupying 1,800 square feet of the building’s rooftop.
Annual production: 16,674 therms, providing 75% of hot water used.
Displaces: 195,082 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Annual savings: $16,000

Emerson Hill, Staten Island

Solar Panels

Building: Community center built in 2007 with 2 stories and 5,000 square feet.
Hot water consumption: 2,000 gallons daily
System: Commissioned in October 2011, 24 flat plate collectors, occupying 960 square feet of the building’s rooftop.
Annual production: 2,579 therms, providing 55% of hot water used.
Displaces: 30,174 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Annual savings: $3,300

Hamilton Heights, Manhattan

Solar Panel


Building: A convent built in 2010 with 5 stories, 10-14 residents, and 11,000 square feet.
Hot water consumption: 300 gallons daily
System: Commissioned in December 2010, 8 flat plate collectors.
Annual production: 353 therms, providing 80% of hot water used.
Displaces: 4,130 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Annual savings: $550

Latest Updates

On September 19th, NYCEDC, the NYC Clean Heat Program and the City University of New York discussed the benefits of installing solar hot water systems on multifamily buildings in New York City.  Watch the webinar to learn more:

View a pdf version.

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