Hybrid energy -a new centre to support its development

CSIRO's new Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems will facilitate research into new and improved renewable and hybrid energy technologies.
Published: Mon 12 Sep 2016

Hybrid energy systems can deliver significant improvements in energy performance, efficiency and reliability, as well as increased flexibility for users. Combining two or more forms of energy generation, storage or end-use technologies, hybrid systems deliver overall cost and efficiency benefits, compared with single source energy systems. Configurations can include renewable or non-renewable energy sources, electrical and chemical energy storage and fuel cells, often connected via a smart grid.

In fact, figures show that the global market for hybrid energy systems in growing steadily. According to Technavio’s latest report, the global hybrid power systems market is expected to grow at a CAGR of close to 6% during the period 2016-2020. As energy storage and renewables continue to make a significant contribution to the energy mix, the market will only see further impressive growth.

A new trend in renewables sector

To date, the wind and solar market have worked largely independently of each other. This is the result of a number of factors including:

  • Differences in the required scale of energy production 

  • Availability of funding sources (carve out FiTs, grants), 

  • Costs

  • Location preferences (rural vs local). 

Recently more wind developers globally are considering adding a significant solar PV farm to their wind farms. This is occurring for plants that are both in development and those that are in operation, which appears to indicate a new trend in the renewables industry,  according to Joep Vaessen, Principal Engineer - Renewable Energy, AECOM,  a provider of professional engineering, consulting and project management services for infrastructure projects. AECOM has recently been involved in international projects involving integrated solar and wind farms.

Advantages such as sharing sites, grid connection and HV transmission lines indicate that integrating wind and solar farms has the potential to create cost efficiencies. In addition, by pulling together wind and solar power technologies there is the potential to increase productivity of the site. 

Centre to support hybrid energy systems development


In support of this growing market, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has launched its Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems (CHES), a collaborative facility to research innovative renewable and hybrid energy technologies. The centre, located in Clayton, Victoria, will be a hub for researchers and industry to identify, improve and then tailor energy technologies to meet specific requirements.

This collaborative space will be used to share the benefits of emerging hybrid energy systems with industry and government, thereby fully harnessing the value of local energy sources.

CSIRO Fellow Dr Sukhvinder Badwal said there was a rapidly growing global demand for hybrid energy systems based on increased availability of renewable and modular power generation and storage technologies such as batteries, fuel cells, and residential solar. He explains: “These technologies are becoming cost competitive, but the key to greater use is to combine them in connected hybrid systems. By doing this, we can offer substantial improvements in performance, reliability of power, flexibility and cost."

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems partner, Delta Energy Systems Australia, is a developer and manufacturer of environmentally-friendly electric vehicle, solar-supported, fast-charging technologies. Delta Energy Systems Australia Director Allen Chao says that his company plans to carry out a range of collaborative research projects with CSIRO in this field. He says: “The opening of the Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems will expand research in this area and marks a significant milestone to ensure the success of any industry cooperation."

The CHES will also provide education, testing and certification services for emerging storage batteries, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The energy industry is transforming. With national commitments to energy decarbonisation, and an increased focus on the security of supply and optimisation of energy costs, the energy value chain in undergoing a fundamental shift. Also impacting the market design of tomorrow is the increasing trend of consumer activity behind the meter. Blockchain, residential PV, storage, ev's and smart homes are unbalancing the scales between energy consumers and suppliers.

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