The Power of Hybrid Renewable Energy: Wind and Solar
The energy consumption of the world is rising at a rapid rate. As more countries like China and India experience steady economic growth, the need for energy will skyrocket.
Renewable energy is the only hope to keep up with the rising demands while maintaining a livable planet. In 2017, renewable energy sources accounted for only 11% of the total US energy consumption. So there is still a lot of room for energy consumption improvements.
The most prominent renewable energy sources like solar and wind are still facing challenges in terms of adoption. However, combining the two sources can provide better results in terms of both efficiency and cost savings.
What’s Stopping Solar and Wind from Taking Over
As a renewable energy source, solar and wind have their own limitations.
Solar requires the presence of the sun. However, sunlight isn’t available during the night or cloud-covered days. Furthermore, the length of sunlight time can significantly differ from location to location.
On the other hand, wind power has a similar source problem. Generally, the wind is stronger during the night. But there’s no guarantee that there will be enough wind at any given time to support power-generation tasks.
So, it means that users have to find ways to circumvent the wind and solar problems.
Solar Energy Has Been Making Progress
Even with the limitations of the sun as the source, solar energy technology has been steadily improving.
The competitive marketplace has inspired manufacturers to improve their solar panels dramatically while decreasing costs. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are becoming more efficient.
Nanomaterials are helping confine more power into smaller areas. It is raising the production capabilities of solar panels
Furthermore, new solar panels are becoming more aesthetically pleasing by offering environmental camouflage. These panels can blend into the environment, so they don’t stand out and destroy the look and feel of a particular area.
Also, scientists are looking for ways to make PV cells more eco-friendly through the use of materials that are abundant in nature. It will further bring the cost down of solar energy cells while increasing product quality.
Wind Power Has Been Making Waves Too
Wind power gets much less attention compared to solar. But it also has been making great strides. Researchers are using the power of bigger and taller turbines to produce more.
The larger turbine and taller stature are allowing wind power systems to use bigger blades which are resulting in more energy production.
Benefits of Combining Wind and Solar
Today entrepreneurs are trying to figure out how they can combine wind and solar energy to create more robust systems. It can increase reliability while decreasing risks.
Here are some benefits of combining the two:
More Energy Production
Solar and wind produce peak power at different times. Solar is most effective when the sun is out. Wind works well during the night. So any solution that combines both solar and wind essentially increases the amount of energy we can produce.
Businesses and homes can store extra energy on batteries. More energy creates a safety net for everyone involved.
Efficient Battery Use
Batteries used to store energy are quite expensive. When wind or solar energy is not being produced, users draw energy from the batteries.
However, if wind and solar are combined, it decreases the amount of time that energy production is at a standstill. So there is less need for power storage on batteries.
Effective Use of Resources
Setting up solar and wind requires physical real-estate. You need a rooftop or land to install PV panels and turbines.
As real estate is expensive, the use of both solar and wind in the same space means less wastage. By combining solar and wind, you are using the space more effectively.
The solar and wind hybrid systems increase power production, decrease battery and real estate use. All these together effectively decrease the price of operating your renewable energy installation.
Real-World Large-Scale Examples of Hybrid Wind and Solar Energy
There are already lots of large scale hybrid installations of solar and wind.
Here are a few examples:
Gullen Farm: In Australia, Gullen Solar Farm and Gullen Wind Farm are colocated. The location has 42,000 solar panels and 73 wind turbines. The solar panels produce around 22,000 megawatt-hours of energy that can support 31,000 homes while the wind turbines can produce 165.5MW energy to support 70,000 homes.
India’s First Large-Scale Solar and Wind Energy Project: India’s energy firm Hero Future Energies have completed their first hybrid system. It can produce 28.8MW from PV and 50MW from the wind farm. The site is located in a rural area of Karnataka where there is a lot of land available.
Concerns about Combining Wind and Solar
A big concern with putting wind and solar technology together was that the shades from the wind turbines would interfere with the efficiency of the solar panels.
However, according to a study by the Reiner Lemoine Institut and Solarpraxis AG, combining the wind and solar doubles power production while the shading losses from wind turbines are only 1% to 2%.
Should Home Owners Consider Wind and Solar Hybrid?
For homeowners, a hybrid wind and solar solution can provide reliability and stability. Especially, if your system is off the grid, you don’t have the luxury of getting power from an energy company.
Hybrid wind and solar solutions mean the probability of total powerlessness is less. You can sustain longer bouts of no power source scenarios.
In terms of expenses, solar and turbine technologies differ significantly between manufacturers and brands. So you’ll have to do some calculations on your own.
Look at the costs of the panels, turbines, and installations. Then, figure out how much power the installation will produce. Also, remember that you might be eligible for Federal Tax Credit.
Once you have all of the numbers, use them to find out your return on investment (ROI). Make your decision based on the ROI.