Home >Industry >Energy >Wind-solar hybrid pipeline of 15GW makes it a key renewable energy segment

MUMBAI : Renewable energy generation projects that are a hybrid of wind and solar power appear to be the next sector of interest among both government policymakers and investors. According to estimate by credit ratings agency Crisil, about 15 GW of WSH (wind-solar hybrid) power will come up over the next five years, riding on strong support from central public sector undertaking Solar Energy Corporation of India and several state governments.

In renewable energy plants, generation from solar energy peaks during the day and that of wind energy at night. However, this difference in supply of power to the grid affects the latter’s resilience, which makes distribution companies (discoms) reluctant to buy power from standalone wind and solar projects. In the hybrid option, however, these two energy sources complement each other, which could help overcome the problems of variability of generation and grid security, and thereby discoms’ reluctance

Of this 15GW mentioned above, about 10 GW is already in the works – either under construction or being tendered – and will start feeding the grid by fiscal 2024. To put things in perspective, the country had 37.69 GW of standalone wind energy capacity and 35 GW of solar capacity as of fiscal 2020.

“We expect the WSH market to grow and evolve as the number of projects and developers who seek to unlock value from the hybrid increases," Says Rahul Prithiani, Director, CRISIL Research, said in a note. “However, the availability of good sites with strong irradiation and high wind speeds would be a key challenge, as evident in waning developer interest in the wind energy sector."

According to agency, there are proposals to set up about 3.9 GW of pure-play WSH projects and about 4.5 GW of WSH projects with energy storage systems currently. WSH projects with storage are capable of catering to peak load generation, besides improving the capacity utilisation factor. Hence, these have the potential to reduce the country’s dependence on gas- and pumped hydro-based peaking plants. In addition, Crisil expects about 1.1 GW of hybrid projects to come up as part of about 5.4 GW up for development under the government’s round-the-clock or RTC power scheme, which has a mandatory 51:49 blend of RE and thermal.

The tariff that developers can offer their customers is key to determining the success of these projects. “We expect WSH tariffs to be in the 2.8-2.9 per kWh range, with a wind-heavy WSH configuration. We believe WSH pricing will become more competitive if the co-location clause (necessitating the wind and solar components to be located at the same place) is removed," said Pinal Mehta, Associate Director, Crisil Research. In the case of WSH-with-storage projects, Crisil believes the weighted average tariff (peak and offpeak) of 4.04- 4.30 per kWh, as discovered in recent bids, is competitive with thermal power tariffs, which are about 4.4 per kWh. Nevertheless, land availability and policies such as co-location will remain key monitorables for the viability of WSH projects. Other challenges, including adequate transmission infrastructure and technical issues such as grid balancing, would need to be addressed, too.

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