The recently unveiled National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy will help the country meet the target of 175 Gw renewable energy capacity by 2022 (up from 69 Gw now), by cutting generation costs by a quarter, analysts said.
The cost reduction would be enabled by nearly doubling the generation at a nominal cost, thanks to reduced variability of output through optimal utilisation of assets, where wind turbines and solar systems will be configured at the same grid connection points.
Industry experts believe with the same evacuation infrastructure — transmission lines and substations — developers can set up additional wind and solar sites at the same locations, increasing the generation efficiency with the average plant load factor (PLF) rising to 40% from 22%.
Ideally, a 1-Mw wind plant generates 16 lakh units in a state like Maharashtra at an investment Rs 6 crore. If 1 Mw solar capacity is added to the same site, it would cost an additional Rs 3.5 crore, but the generation would double to 32 lakh units.
For the same plant, with an additional wind capacity of 1 Mw, the developer would have shelled out at least Rs 6 crore more assuming the land between two wind turbines belongs to the same developer.
Prashant Khankhoje, advisor, Indian Power Producers Association (IPPAI), and director, Global Energy, an energy profiling firm, said, the generation and project cost from a hybrid site will be almost 25% lower than standalone wind and solar projects. This is subject to location of the site, feasibility, and approval of evacuation, as the additional cost of approach road, substation and evacuation will not be there.
He added, “Assuming, under competitive bidding, government offers a tariff of Rs 3/Kwh, the revenue generated from a hybrid plant will double for a 1+1-Mw plant as PLF will move up from 22% on average to 40%,” Khankhoje said.
Currently, the PLF of renewable plants — wind and solar — is not more than 20-22% on an average, barring states like Tamil Nadu, where the wind PLF, in few places, is as high as 30-35%. For a 100-Mw wind or solar site, the evacuation facility is always equal to or more than 100 MW.
This means the remaining — around 80% — remains idle during low wind season for wind farms, or during low sun period for solar farms. Hence, under hybrid plants, the developers would be able to use the facility more efficiently at same cost.
Sabyasachi Majumdar, senior vice-president, ICRA, concurs, hybrid projects are likely to be competitive in tariffs with respect to individual wind or solar energy projects, given the benefits associated with such projects, mainly on account of lower capital cost, optimisation of transmission infrastructure, and higher generation.