Growth of Hybrid Power Plants in the U.S.

April 21, 2022

One of the most important electric power system trends of the 2010s was the rapid deployment of wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays, but early data suggests a twist for the 2020s may be the rapid deployment of ‘hybrid’ generation resources.

Hybrid power plants typically combine solar or wind (or other energy sources) with co-located storage. Just as cost declines drove last decade’s wind and solar expansion, falling battery prices and growing needs to integrate variable renewable energy generation are driving plans to deploy hybrid power plants.

By the end of 2021, there was more than 8,000 MW of wind or solar generation connected to storage in the US. But there are thousands of solar hybrids that have applied for connection to the grid, amounting to a staggering 280,000 MW of solar and 208,000 MW of storage. Even if only a quarter of these make it to commercial operation, they will have big impacts on grid operations. While hybridization helps to ease the challenge of balancing variable supply and demand, its relative novelty means that research is needed to facilitate integration and promote innovation.

Combining the characteristics of multiple energy, storage, and conversion technologies poses complex questions for grid operations and economics. Project developers, system operators, planners, and regulators would benefit from better data, methods, and tools to estimate the costs, values, and system impacts of hybrid projects. The opportunity for hybrids is clearly large as we move toward greater levels of renewable energy, but their implications and optimal applications have yet to be established.

This publication showcases some of Berkeley Lab’s robust research program intended to support private- and public-sector decision-making about hybrid plants in the United States. Our short briefing summarizes articles that we published over the past two years, links to the in-depth reports, and provides contact details for further engagement on the specific research topics.

Continue reading this article on the Electricity Markets & Policy website.