Times of Oman | Feature :: Hybrid power plants: Renewable energy’s newest trend
byJohn Brian Shannon - Special to Times of Oman
Photo - SolarPraxis.de
One option for renewable energy producers that has been open to utility companies but rarely utilized, is the installation of both wind and solar power plants together at the same location, which results in a doubling in the amount of electricity produced.
Prior to a study done by Reiner Lemoine Institut and Solarpraxis AG, it was (incorrectly) thought that the huge towers upon which the wind turbines are mounted would cast huge shadows over the photovoltaic solar panel array, thereby reducing their efficiency by a significant factor.
It turns out that when solar and wind power generation are combined on the same site, such hybrid power plants complement each other better, than had been imagined. Approximately twice the power generation is available from any such hybrid power plant site, when compared to wind or solar only.
The landmark study took into account the amount of sunlight loss (shading) which would occur in a carefully designed hybrid power plant. Energy losses were less than 2 percent of total output. This is a lower energy loss percentage, than compared to conventional power plant energy, such as coal — where up to 10 percent of the coal can be lost during transport from North America to China, or from Australia to China, and later storage, for example.
A major benefit of such hybrid power plants is that due to the relative intermittency of both wind power and solar power is they tend to cancel out the others weaknesses. Grid expansion, is therefore not required for hybrid power plants. Wind power peaks at night, during cool days, and in the colder seasons of the year — while solar produces power during the daylight hours, the warmer parts of the day and most especially during the warmer seasons, when the Sun is high in the sky, directly over the solar panel array...