If you have been researching types of renewable energy, you might have come across the term wind-solar hybrid and wondered exactly what the phrase means. Wind-solar hybrid is a renewable energy system, generally small, and used to provide power for homes, small businesses, and small farms.
According to some renewable energy experts, a small electric system that combines wind and solar (photovoltaic) technologies offers some advantages over either single system. Hybrid systems allow the power user to take advantage of both forms of energy when they are most readily available. For example, solar panels don’t provide power at night but wind power can be generated at that time. The long, sunny days of summer are ideal for capturing solar energy and winters can often produce an abundance of wind in many areas.
Many hybrid systems are designed to operate off-grid – not connected to an electricity distribution system. For times when neither the solar or wind systems are producing, most hybrid systems provide power through batteries and/or an engine generator powered by conventional fuels such as diesel. If the batteries run low, the engine generator can provide power and recharge the batteries. It is also possible to tie the system to the grid with special electric controllers.
There are pros and cons for using this type of energy system. It provides a cleaner form of energy, but at a price. For homes that are off the grid, it can cost $15,000 to $50,000 per mile to run power lines to the proposed site. A small hybrid system and its installation will likely cost upwards of $20,000. Some states provide incentives which can help off-set the costs of installation. Another key challenge to implementing this type of system is permitting. according to the American Wind Energy Association, approximately two-thirds of all wind turbine projects are denied by local or state permit restrictions. In regards to financing, many investors view the internal rate of return (IRR) of a renewable energy technology to be a better method of assessing its value to its payback period. Renewable energy provides stability and protection against the volatile prices of conventional electricity which is attractive to some investors.