Wind-Solar Hybrid Projects Estimated to Reach 11.7 GW by 2023: Report

India’s total wind-solar hybrid capacity is expected to grow rapidly to reach nearly 11.7 GW by 2023, according to a new report by IEEFA and JMK Research.

India’s total wind-solar hybrid capacity is expected to grow rapidly to reach nearly 11.7 gigawatts (GW) by 2023, according to a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and JMK Research.

This is a new and fast-growing market in India,” said the report’s authors Vibhuti Garg, energy economist at the IEEFA and Jyoti Gulia, founder of JMK Research. “There is a lot of interest in the potential of wind-solar hybrid generation to better manage the intermittency problem of standalone wind and solar and to make clean power more competitive against traditional thermal plants,” added Garg.

Hybrid systems can produce more consistent power because solar power is produced during the day, while wind power is typically strongest at night. This inherent complementary nature of wind and solar power makes hybrid systems well-suited to meet energy demand, according to the report.

As the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and several state governments continue to provide incentives to promote the building of new wind-solar hybrid projects, Garg and Gulia predict that total capacity, which is now only 148 megawatts (MW), will increase by almost 80 times in the next three years.

“SECI has taken the lead by regularly coming up with large tenders to scale up market growth,” said Gulia. The government is now also planning to hold renewable energy auctions for round-the-clock and hybrid projects instead of plain solar or wind tenders.

“Based on the tenders allotted under various central and state schemes, we expect capacity addition of wind-solar hybrid projects to reach almost 11.7 GW in the next three years, and also that it will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 223 percent from 2020-2023,” added Garg.

SECI Tenders for these hybrid projects without storage have attracted low tariffs of Rs2.67/kWh which are comparable to plain solar tariffs. The report uses a financial model to project tariff trends for a 250 MW wind-solar hybrid project under different scenarios. It shows that when solar and wind are blended at a ratio of 80:20, the levelised tariff is Rs 2.49/kWh, while a ratio of 50:50 results in a tariff of about Rs2.57/kWh.

But when storage in the form of a 2-hour battery back-up is added, the levelised tariff increases substantially to Rs4.59/kWh.

“Clearly, adding battery storage is not a feasible option at present because it significantly increases project costs and hence the tariffs,” said Gulia. “However, rapidly falling battery prices will make such an addition to these projects viable within a few years, further strengthening grid stability and reliability.”

Although wind and solar capacity can be operating at the same or different locations, co-locating reduces costs related to land, grid connection, hardware and other installation overheads. The cost of a co-located system is 7-8 percent lower than the cost of a standalone solar system.

“India’s long coastline is endowed with high-speed wind and is also rich in solar energy resources, providing a great opportunity for the wind-solar hybrid industry,” said Gulia.

Wind-solar hybrid can help the government boost renewable energy development and meet its commitment to 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 450 GW of renewables by 2030, rather than simply relying on standalone wind and solar, according to the report.

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