Hybrid Energy Systems

by Clint Ouma

The word hybrid refers to something made by combining different elements [1]. Modern science has seen dramatic advances in hybrid technology, giving birth to hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius [2] and incorporating information and communications technology (ICT) systems that automate smart-houses and eco homes.

Similarly, hybrid energy systems have been designed to generate electricity from different sources, such solar panels and wind turbines.

Hybrid energy systems often consist of a combination between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, and are used in conjunction with energy storage equipment (batteries).

This is often done either to reduce the cost of generating electricity from fossil fuels or to provide back up for a renewable energy system, ensuring continuity of power supply when the renewable energy source fluctuates.

One of the biggest downfalls of renewable energy is that energy supply is not constant [3]; sources like solar and wind power fluctuate in intensity due to the weather and seasonal changes [3].

Therefore, a reliable backup system is necessary for renewable energy generating stations that are not connected to a national power grid.

These systems consist of a variety of power control methods and storage equipment which include battery banks and diesel generators among others.

The power systems that are connected to the national grid don’t have this problem because, in most cases, there are many different sources of power contributing to the national electricity supply.

Different Hybrid Power Technologies

There are several types of hybrid energy systems such as wind-solar hybrid, solar-diesel, wind-hydro and wind-diesel.

The design of a system or the choice of energy sources depends on several considerations.

The factors affecting the choice of hybrid power technology can also tell us why people use hybrids and some of the advantages. The main factors are cost and resources available.

The cost hybrid power technology greatly affects the choices people make, particularly in developing countries.

This also depends on the aim of the project. People who are planning to set up a hybrid energy project for their own use often focus on lowering the total investment and operational costs while those planning to generate electricity for sale focus on the long-term project revenue.

As such, systems that incorporate hydrogen storage and fuel cells [4] [5] are not very common with small scale projects. The viability of one hybrid energy system over another is usually pegged on the cost of generating each kilowatt.

The availability of the natural resources plays an enormous part when selecting the components of a hybrid energy system – the right power generation location and method must be chosen.

Often, a hybrid system is opted for because the existing power resource is not enough to generate the amount of power needed – which is often the case when using micro-hydro plants.

In some developing countries, such as parts of Ethiopia, a wind-solar hybrid power system, consisting of wind turbines and solar photovoltaics was found to be most viable. This was because the wind resource alone was not sufficient to meet the electric load. Solar P.V. cells were very expensive, so it wasn’t feasible for the project developers to use solar power alone [6].

Hybrid systems are most suitable for small grids and isolated or stand-alone systems as hybrid power generation is, by definition, a solution for getting around problems where one energy source isn’t sufficient.

The popularity of hybrid energy systems has grown so much that it is now a niche-industry in itself – with custom systems being engineered for specific functions. For instance, Enercon, a German wind power company, has come up with unique factory-designed hybrid power technology, including the world’s first hybrid wind-diesel powered ship, the E-Ship 1 [7].

Article References

[1] Oxford English Mini dictionary ISBN 0-19-860255-3

[2] Toyota – Prius V Specs: http://www.toyota.com/priusv/specs.html

[3] Zero emission Project – The Problem of Renewable Energy Fluctuation by Lorenzo Polidori, May 2010: http://zeroemissionproject.com/blog/article/27/the-problem-of-renewable-energy-fluctuation

[4] U.S. Department of Energy – Fuel Cells Technologies Program: https://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/doe_h2_fuelcell_factsheet.pdf

[5] M. Khan, M. Iqbal; Pre-feasibility study of stand-alone hybrid energy systems for applications in Newfoundland – Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John’s Canada June 2004: Elsevier Renewable Energy Issue 30 (835 – 854).

[6] Feasibility for a standalone Solar-Wind-Based hybrid energy system for application in Ethiopia by Getachew Bekele and Bjorn Palm Department of Energy, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden; Elsevier – Applied Energy 87 (487-495) 2010.

[7] Got Powered – Enercon E-Ship 1: Wind-powered ship: http://gotpowered.com/2011/enercon-e-ship-1-wind-powered-ship/

This post was last modified on April 4, 2019 7:35 pm


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  • Hi I am also working on solar PV system simulation using MATLAB/Simulink software it must be connected to the load as well, I need some guide lines.

  • Sir I am a student of thiagarajar college of engineering.I want totake seminar about hybrid energy.please give some tips to me.

  • Sir i am student of final year and my field is Mechatronics and Control engineering. I want to make a final year project of hybrid renewable energy system of solar and wind. I need all stuff related to this project and I will be thankful to you for your help.

  • Dear sir,
    I am student of Institute of Engieers Srilanka (IESL).I am doing hybrid model for very rural poor school using wind and solar.Load is 8kW.I have some problems to design calculations as follows.
    1.How to select the inverter.
    2.Battery charger and and Battery bank,Solar and wind mixture(couple)unit and so on.
    Already,I have done some calculations.Pls,help me to submit that.
    Thanks sir.

  • Dear sir,
    i like more interest this type of projects and i have to learn on this type of hybrid systems and other electrical power system applications so whenever i want to join in this type of system.

  • hi all,
    Im developing a hybrid project (solar-diesel plant). maybe if you want you can send me your CV and I can evaluate these. It will be only a colaboration for now if you want.
    my idea is to give you the opportunity to participate in a real project but at the begining I cant tell you where is the project (confidenciality).


    • Hello JM

      I am a b.tech final year student doing a project on solar-wind-micro hydro-grid hybrid system in matlab simulation platform. If I could be helpful in any part of your project then please let me know.

      Thank you.

  • I am an inventor and I have many different designs for Hybrid renewable plants, but I am always interested in cost estimates in hybrid systems for small, medium, and large applications.

    I am currently looking to develop 40 acres into a hybrid solar and wind farm and multiple properties for smart cities. I could use a companies guidance in these products in an effort to streamline the process.

    Much of what I read is very positive for combining multiple systems and I want to start developing them now before federal funding runs out.

  • Dear Sir,

    We are interested in marketing your product solar and hybird system in Pakistan. In this connection please inform us how much you will discount us. So please kindly send me litrature and detail of your product.

    Waiting For You reply.

    Mudassir Ali Kazmi,

  • sir,
    I am mtech final year student I needed the designing parameters for wind and solar hybrid.