Hybrid is now, not tomorrow
Published on 4th August 2018
Senior Director, WTG Sales Management Asia Pacific at Vestas
Players in the renewable space talk of the promise of hybrid as if it’s yet to be realized. In fact, the elements behind hybrid technology are nothing new. The technology is tried and tested: Turbines, PV arrays and utility scale batteries are already part of our energy infrastructure. The newest element is the control system. The rest is standard. What is new is the ability to combine these elements and integrate them under one umbrella to manage them as a unified plant at utility scale.
With the combination of advanced control systems and deep knowledge about wind itself, wind energy is today predictable, manageable and connected to grids all over the world. We only have to look at Queensland in northern Australia, where a hybrid plant will satisfy the grid authorities’ stringent demands for guaranteed grid stability in one of the world’s most challenging networks. Proof that all it takes is a few bold moves at the right time and what was considered impossible yesterday will be normal tomorrow.
Australia is probably the most advanced market for hybrid solutions at this point. The US is moving fast – India too. Other markets are much slower - but the global need to deliver is here. There’s a lot of smart money looking for investment and hybrid renewables are on the radar.
New technologies are being accepted more readily by potential investors and renewable assets are an attractive class for many reasons. Already wind farms offer a solid 20-year life-span – and their investment fundamentals are healthy over their economic span. With the advent of hybrid solutions, the future looks significantly more stable – particularly in terms of being able to deliver a consistent, predictable supply of energy over time.
This doesn’t herald an end to traditional wind investment, but is rather an extension to the renewable portfolio, which offers an increasingly future-proof opportunity.
But where are these hybrid plants? Where will they come from? They’ll come from us all pulling in the same direction and leaving our respective comfort zones. From suppliers and contractors to customers and investors, a collaborative approach with an open mind can accelerate the change to a future of renewable energy. Various industry actors can create a positive spiral - a dynamic where new policy and regulation enables deployment of new technology, which enables new investments, which enables more R&D that inspires new regulation… and so on to a sustainable future.