Hybrid Power Plants: Status of Operating and Proposed Plants, 2022 Edition

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Falling battery prices and the growth of variable renewable generation are driving a surge of interest in “hybrid” power plants that combine, for example, wind or solar generating capacity with co-located batteries. While most of the current interest involves pairing photovoltaic (PV) plants with batteries, other types of hybrid or co-located plants with wide-ranging configurations have been part of the U.S. electricity mix for decades.

This annually updated briefing tracks and maps existing hybrid or co-located plants across the United States while also synthesizing data mined from power purchase agreements (PPAs) and generation interconnection queues to shed light on near- and long-term development pipelines. The scope includes co-located hybrid plants that pair two or more generators and/or that pair generation with storage at a single point of interconnection, and full hybrids that feature co-location and co-control. The focus is on plants with one megawatt (MW) or more of capacity; smaller (often behind-the-meter) projects are also increasingly common, but are not included in this data synthesis.

Key findings from the latest briefing include:

  • At the end of 2021, there were nearly 300 hybrid plants (>1 MW) operating across the United States, totaling nearly 36 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity and 3.2 GW/8.1 GWh of energy storage. PV+storage plants are by far the most common, dominating in terms of plant number (140), storage capacity (2.2 GW/7.0 GWh), storage:generator ratio (53%), and storage duration (3.2 hours). But there are nearly twenty other hybrid plant configurations as well, including several different fossil hybrid categories (each dominated by the fossil component) as well as wind+storage, wind+PV, wind+PV+storage, geothermal+PV, and others.
  • Last year was a breakout year for PV+storage hybrids in particular: 67 of the 74 hybrids added in 2021 were PV+storage. By the end of 2021, there were more GW of battery capacity installed in PV+storage hybrids (2.2 GW) than as standalone storage plants (1.8 GW). The difference is even starker in energy terms, with PV+storage plants hosting twice as much battery capacity as standalone storage plants (7 GWh vs. 3.5 GWh, respectively). Much of the battery capacity added in hybrid form in 2021 was a battery retrofit to a pre-existing PV plant.
  • Data on plants under development from the interconnection queues of all seven ISOs/RTOs plus 35 individual utilities suggest that these hybridization trends are likely to continue. At the close of 2021, there were more than 670 GW of solar plants in the nation’s queues; 285 GW (~42%) of this capacity was proposed as a hybrid, most typically pairing PV with battery storage (PV+storage represented nearly 90% of all hybrid capacity in the queues). For wind, 247 GW of capacity sat in the queues, with 19 GW (~8%) proposed as a hybrid, again most-often pairing wind with storage (wind+storage represented ~4% of all hybrid capacity in the queues). Meanwhile, nearly half of all storage in the queues is estimated to be part of a hybrid plant. While many of these proposed plants will not ultimately reach commercial operations, the depth of interest in hybrid plants—especially PV+storage—is notable.
  • The report also surveys power purchase agreement (PPA) price data from a sample of operating and proposed PV+storage plants. Though PV+storage PPA prices have fallen over time, “levelized storage adders” have recently increased somewhat to ~$5500/MW-month, ~$45/MWh-stored (assuming one full cycle per day), or ~$15/MWh-PV. Some of the recent price increase could simply reflect a trend towards higher battery:PV capacity ratios over time, which increases costs, all else being equal. The well-publicized impact of inflationary and supply chain pressures on battery prices is no doubt a contributor as well.

For further details on these and other findings, please refer to the short PowerPoint-style briefing, which can be downloaded here. The briefing is accompanied by two data visualizations, one focused on online plants and the other on those in interconnection queues, as well as an Excel data file with details on individual plants.

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