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Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Renewable hybrid energy systems as a game changer

India has added 65-70GW of wind and solar capacity so far, with wind and solar contributing 9.5% of generated energy in May 2019.
By IASToppers
August 28, 2019


  • India’s renewable energy scenario
  • Renewable energy challenges
  • What is Renewable Hybrid energy system?
  • Example of Renewable Hybrid energy system
  • Future of Hybrid System
  • Solar-wind hybrid policy
  • Way Ahead

Renewable hybrid energy systems as a game changer

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Why it was in News?

Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) recently conducted two auctions for wind/solar hybrid projects, in which only 1.56 GW was taken by two firms against a total of 2.4GW on offer.

solar-power-1-IAStoppers Renewable hybrid energy systems as a game changer

India’s renewable energy scenario

  • India has added 65-70GW of wind and solar capacity so far, with wind and solar contributing 9.5% of generated energy in 2019.


  • Recently, the government set the target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, which includes 100 GW from solar and 60 GW from wind (10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power).
  • If this target is achieved by 2022, the share of wind and solar could exceed 15-16%.

Renewable energy challenges

Renewable energy has three inherent challenges,

  1. It relies on intermittent sources, producing energy only when the sun is shining or wind is blowing.
  2. Its output is constrained to specific hours of the day.
  3. Its use leads to lower utilization of transmission lines.
  • This can create issues in matching peak power demand with renewable output (e.g. in evening hours when solar energy is not available), and raise costs of transmission.
  • Experience in countries which have achieved renewable energy penetration of over 15% indicates that other flexible energy resources (such as hydro or gas-based power) should be used along with solar/wind power.

What is Renewable Hybrid energy system?


  • A hybrid energy system usually consists of two or more renewable energy sources used together to provide increased system efficiency as well as greater balance in energy supply
  • A hybrid system can combine wind, solar with an additional resource of generation or storage.

Example of Renewable Hybrid energy system

  • In India, solar output is maximum between 11am and 3pm, while wind output is highest in late evening and early morning.
  • Peak demand for power is reached in the evening hours of 6-9pm, which cannot be catered to by either wind or solar.
  • Hence, if one can store some energy during excess renewable generation hours and release it into the grid during peak demand hours, the combined hybrid system can produce 24×7 clean energy in response to varying levels of demand through the day.
  • The storage can take many forms, such as batteries, pumped hydro or mechanical storage through flywheels.
  • The intermittency of wind and solar could also be balanced by adding a fast ramping source of power (such as an open cycle gas turbine).
  • The overall output of the hybrid system can thus be matched against a required load on an hourly basis. In this way, it can provide both baseload (minimum power) and flexible power (both peak power and low power requirements).

Future of Hybrid System

  • Hybrid systems are expected to become increasingly cost competitive, driven by reducing costs of battery storage and solar energy.
  • An optimal combination of solar, wind and storage can deliver stable 24 X 7 power even at today’s costs of around ₹6-7/kWh.
  • This cost is significantly higher compared to coal plants. However, lithium-ion battery (used in Hybrid systems) costs are expected to fall.
  • Similarly, costs of solar energy have decreased from ₹4.63/kWh in 2016 to ₹2.50/kWh and may fall as low as ₹2/kWh in the next 3-5 years.
  • If economics of hybrid systems approaches the suitable levels, they can potentially be competitive with 30-40% of existing coal-fired stations in India.
  • They can therefore become a viable solution to meeting future baseload power requirements, all at zero carbon emissions and future cost-inflation proof.
  • Moreover, more than 50 hybrid projects have already been announced/under construction globally, with Australia and US being the leaders.

Solar-wind hybrid policy

  • India’s ministry of new and renewable energy released a solar-wind hybrid policy in 2018.
  • It provides a framework to promote grid-connected hybrid energy through set-ups that would use land and transmission infrastructure and manage the variability of renewable resources to some extent.
  • As per the policy, a wind-solar plant is recognized as hybrid plant if the rated power capacity of one resource is at least 25% of the rated power capacity of other resource.

Way Ahead

  • Renewable hybrids can play a key role in helping India accelerate the decarbonisation of power generation and lowering the cost of electricity in the medium term.
  • However, there is need to ponder between building new coal-fired plants and renewable hybrids.
  • There is also need to think on how should investors, who are evaluating existing stressed coal-fired assets, put a value on them 5-7 years ahead.
  • Most importantly, what policy and regulatory changes need to be made so that India can fully capture the potential of Hybrid energy should be the main focus of energy policies.


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