The company plans to build about 300 megawatts (MW) of hybrid capacity over the next three years, encouraged by demand from customers and enabling policies from the Centre and some states, said a senior executive at Cleanmax Solar
CleanMax Solar, one of the largest distributed solar power producers in India, has forayed into building wind-solar hybrid power plants, allowing its commercial customers to shift a larger portion of their energy usage away from fossil fuels and into clean energy.
A senior executive at Cleanmax Solar said the company plans to build about 300 megawatts (MW) of hybrid capacity over the next three years, encouraged by demand from customers and enabling policies from the Centre and some states.
Solar and wind power generation reach peak levels at different hours of a day and at different seasons—solar during the day and in summers, while wind at night and through the monsoons. The resulting intermittencies in supply impact grid resilience, which has made power utilities and commercial customers reluctant to rely entirely on clean energy sources. A wind-solar hybrid builds both generation capacities at the same location, optimizing use of transmission and evacuation infrastructure and land resources.
“We’re pioneering wind-solar hybrid because with the same megawatt of capacity, customers get a higher power output; we are available to give a balance between months of the year and time of day," Kuldeep Jain, managing director, CleanMax Solar, said in an interview.
“This way, consumers are able to shift 90% of their consumption to wind-solar hybrid as compared to 60% of their consumption on solar now. This helps them in reducing both carbon emissions and increases their cost savings."
According to data from the ministry of new and renewable energy, India has 38.79 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity and 38.68GW of wind. The growth of both energy sources combined looks promising, with credit rating agency Crisil estimating that about 15GW of hybrid power will emerge during 2021-25, riding on strong support from state-run Solar Energy Corp. of India, with states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh leading in generation potential.
For CleanMax, the switch to hybrid may happen at a faster pace. Major industrial groups such as JSW, Mahindra, Tata Steel and Godrej Industries have already declared their commitments to decarbonizing, switching to cleaner energy sources and reducing emissions in industrial processes.
CleanMax has commissioned 110MW of wind-solar hybrid and has another 172MW, with an investment of ₹900 crore, slated to be operational in 18 months. The company said it can deliver clean energy at a blended tariff of under ₹4 a unit through hybrid. It has already signed on Cargill, Sansera and Bill Forge as hybrid customers.
Jain intends to increase Cleanmax’s total generation capacity, including hybrid and solar rooftop, to 2 GW in three years with an investment of ₹5000 crore.
Vinay Rustagi, managing director of renewables consultancy firm Bridge to India, says hybrid is expected to gain in popularity as both utilities and corporate consumers become reluctant to sign plain vanilla wind or solar purchase agreements because of intermittency concerns. “They need more stable generation and wind-solar hybrid, increasingly combined with energy storage, will be the answer going forward. Moreover, with basic customs duty on solar module imports coming into effect from next year, solar will partly lose its competitive cost edge, making the case for hybrid projects even stronger."
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