India released a draft policy Monday that aims to support wind and solar development by bringing them closer together.
The plan envisions development of hybrid solar-wind plants, where the two systems are co-located on a single piece of land.
“It is a great combination, because then you have steady power coming from six in the morning to six in the evening from the solar, and then have wind which starts around 12 and goes on until about two or three in the morning,” said Ramesh Kymal, CEO of Siemens Gamesa’s business in India.
“A new market is emerging to capitalize on the synergies” between the two technologies, he added, and “hybrid has become a very important factor in the way forward.”
“One of the major drawbacks of both wind and solar farms today is that power is produced only during certain intervals—when the sun shines during the day, or when there are strong enough winds,” Quartz explains. “Hybrid plants also allow power producers to tap into multiple energy sources simultaneously, and generate more power from a given site,” while taking better advantage of land and transmission infrastructure that typically account for about 25% of the cost of a project.
The new plan is being unveiled at a time when India’s wind and solar industries are both recovering from a tough year of policy and regulatory change. States like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh all have significant solar and wind potential. But the country as a whole, with 70,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity installed, is still far from its 2022 target of 175,000 MW.
Hybrid facilities are also seen as a way to maximize the use of an electricity grid that currently lacks capacity to deal with the expected increase in renewable generation, Quartz adds. “The grid is going to be a challenge, so hybrid is the best considering the grid bottleneck,” said India Ratings and Research senior analyst Ankur Agarwal. “That makes more economical use of your (electricity transmission) facility.”
At the same time, the complexity of the hybrid concept raises technical issues that will have to be resolved over the next couple of years.
“It is not just putting two power plants together and making it one,” Agarwal explained. “People have to figure out technical feasibility, integration between the two,” and “systems to manage the load coming from both wind and solar.”