India has set the ambitious target of achieving the capacity of 175 Giga – Watts (GW) from renewable sources of energy by the year 2022, including 100 GW from solar energy and 60 GW from wind energy. Research studies have concluded that solar energy and wind energy are complementary to each other and as a result, hybridization of solar and wind technologies would reduce variable costs, optimally utilize infrastructure and land since there are several areas with moderately to high potential for both solar and wind energy. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of the Government of India seeks to provide a framework for proper hybridization of wind and solar technologies, promote large grid connected wind – solar photo – voltaic (PV) system for optimal and efficient utilization of both infrastructure and land and thereby reduce variable costs and ensure better grid stability. In this regard, the MNRE has proposed a draft National Wind – Solar Hybrid Policy, 2016 (Draft Policy) with the goal of reaching the target of wind – solar hybrid energy of capacity 10 GW by the year 2022. The Draft Policy provides that wind – solar hybrid power plants will be configured to operate at the same grid connection point. The Draft Policy provides the following important requirements for wind – solar hybrid power plants:
(i) Integration Process: The approach to integration of wind and solar energy can be different depending upon the size of each of the source integrated and the technology type. The Draft Policy states that in order to achieve the benefits of a wind – solar hybrid power plant which brings about optimal and efficient utilization of transmission infrastructure and better grid stability by reducing the variability in renewable power generation, it is important that in areas where the wind power density is high, the solar power hybrid component could be low and alternatively, high when the wind power density is low.
(ii) Implementation Process: The implementation strategy for the wind – solar hybrid power system would be largely dependent on the technology available and the configurations possible. For existing wind / solar PV systems, the injection of hybrid power should not be in excess of the transmission capacity / sanctioned grid connectivity, so as to ensure that no augmentation of transmission capacity is required. No additional transmission capacity charges should be levied by the transmission entity for installation of the hybrid solar / wind energy components considering that same transmission capacity is being used. The additional solar/wind power generated from the hybrid project may be used for captive purpose or may be sold to the distribution licensees under the mechanism for Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) or at the Feed – In Tariff (FIT) as determined by the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs). In case of new projects, the project developer could either generate power for captive use or offtake power to the distribution licensees at a price determined by SERCs, which would be accounted towards its Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs).
(iii) Tariff guidelines and Incentives: The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) shall lay down the guidelines for the mechanism for determination of tariff and shall frame regulations for forecasting and scheduling. All fiscal and financial incentives available to independent wind and solar power projects shall be made available to wind – solar hybrid power projects. Low cost financing for hybrid projects may be made available through Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and other financial institutions. Support for development of standards for hybrid projects shall be provided by the Government of India.
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