India’s wind-solar hybrid capacity could grow 80 times in three years

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The total wind-solar hybrid capacity in India could increase by almost 80 times from currently only 148 MW to 11.6 GW by 2023, according to a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Ieefa) and JMK Research.

The estimate is based on the tenders allotted under various central and state schemes. The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has so far tendered a total of 12,860 MW hybrid capacity (with and without storage), of which 4,290 MW has already been auctioned.

The report noted that combining wind and solar results in a capacity utilization factor of 35-50% compared to standalone solar’s 16-20% and standalone wind’s 20-26%.

Given the benefits of such systems, the government is now planning to hold renewable energy auctions for round-the-clock and hybrid projects instead of plain solar or wind tenders.

“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,” said report authors Vibhuti Garg, energy economist at the Ieefa, and Jyoti Gulia, founder of JMK Research.

“Wind-solar 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.”

Besides upcoming capacity addition, the report examines tariffs, national and state policies, regulatory developments, and the challenges associated with wind-solar hybrid technology.

Tariffs

SECI tenders for wind-solar hybrid projects without storage have attracted low tariffs of INR2.67/kWh (US¢3.7/kWh), which are comparable to plain solar tariffs.

The report uses a financial model to project tariffs trends for a 250MW wind-solar hybrid project under different scenarios. It shows that when solar and wind are blended at a ratio of 80:20, the levelized tariff is INR 2.49/kWh (US¢3.32/kWh), while a 50:50 ratio results in a tariff of about INR 2.57/kWh (US¢3.43/kWh).

The levelized tariff increases substantially to INR 4.59/kWh (US¢6.12/kWh) when a two-hour battery back-up is added.

“Clearly, adding battery storage is not a feasible option at present because it significantly increases project costs and hence the tariffs,” said Garg and 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.”

The report highlights that much of India’s solar and wind power potential is concentrated in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

“Although wind and solar capacity can be at the same or different locations, co-locating reduces costs related to land, grid connection, hardware and other installation overheads. A co-located system costs 7-8% lower than a standalone solar system,” it stated.

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