Mixing it up — how wind and solar can work together. Wind and Solar Hybrids – the emerging trends.
Hydel– Visualize water cycle. It is the Sun which evaporates water from the oceans and deposits it on the hills and mountains.
Wind– Differences in temperatures between layers of atmosphere cause difference in pressures which we see as winds and cyclones.
Tidal– Here gravitation also comes into play. G is solely by virtue of Mass. Again the Sun is the heaviest of all objects in the solar system. At any point of time one pole of the earth sees melting ice (presence of Sun) while the other pole sees formation of ice (absence of sun). This causes mass movement of water, ocean currents, waves and tides.
Bio– Remember photosynthesis and transpiration from botany classes. They can not happen in the absence of the Sun. All life forms – flora and fauna – and vitamin D are due to the Sun. The bio gas plant can not generate any gas without the Sun.
It is for the sake of convenience that humans have classified energy as such different forms apart from solar.
The human race has so far been able to tap the Sun’s light through the widely popular PV cells. Solar energy is thus converted into electrical energy for human materialistic uses. The solar thermal systems tend to tap the Sun’s heat. Both the means have, however, limitations. The most distinguished demerits arise due to the time of the day, season of the year, and the site’s altitude and the latitude.
Therefore, the need of the power hungry humans can be fulfilled by adopting a clever mix of two or more of the other forms of energy mentioned above.
Clive Turton, president of Vestas Asia Pacific, echoes this widely accepted theory in the field of renewable energy. He says, “We don’t believe there is a limit to the potential for combining technologies in hybrid plants. There are many options, and each is specific to the regulatory environment, resource availability and complementarity, customer preference and market situation.”
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It is now a well understood norm that the sun or the wind may not necessarily produce electricity all the time. After all, to store electrical energy for future use is a costly proposition. Ideally it should be consumed wholly as soon as it is produced. But in reality, the use is intermittent which makes storage means a necessary component of the system.
The moot point is the nature of the user’s needs. If it is understood properly, the storage part from a renewable system can be diminished if not eliminated. For instance, consider the need to have an air conditioner. If wind energy and geothermal energy can suitably be integrated, the job of an air conditioner can be obtained much more efficiently without involving electricity anywhere in the system. Creatures as tiny as the termites have been doing this since the beginning of the Creation. They neither went to any school or college to study the laws of physics nor did they have any access to the internet.
There are a number of factors which favor the adaptation of hybrid use of renewable energy sources. Decentralisation of power generation, falling costs of wind, solar and batteries – to name a few. Hybrid renewable-energy plants would be suitable to support high levels of renewable-energy penetration by minimizing the storage needs.
If prices continue to fall for renewables and batteries, belching coal and oil base power plants may soon become obsolete.