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First Commercial Solar-Wind Hybrid Project In U.S. Aims To Boost Net Capacity

GE wind turbine hybrid solar article

The Concept: combine the peak power profile of solar and wind energy to increase net system capacity up to 4%.

You got chocolate in my peanut butter!

Two great ways to generate renewable energy are getting better, together.

Juhl Energy is developing the first commercial integrated solar-wind hybrid power generation project in the U.S., a 4.6MW community-based project in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota. It will use two 2.3-116 wind turbines from GE Renewable Energy’s Onshore Wind business integrated with 1MW of solar power conversion equipment provided by GE’s Current business. The project is expected to enter commercial operation in August, 2017.

Why this a great concept: The combination aligns power output more closely to peak demand than either technology can by itself. The solar PV panels provide summer peak energy, and the wind turbines provide winter peak energy. This hybrid approach promises to increase system net capacity by 3% to 4% and annual energy production by up to 10%, according to GE.

To date, hybrid solar-wind technology has been focused on off-grid, remote applications. According to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., “increasing demand for clean fuel off grid electricity will boost the demand for global hybrid solar-wind systems in the near term.” But as the Red Lake Falls project shows, the market is turning towards commercial, grid-tied applications. Global Market Insights estimates that the worldwide market for hybrid solar-wind projects could reach USD $1.47 billion by 2024, as “strict government norms to reduce the greenhouse gas emission coupled with initiatives toward energy conservation will drive the hybrid solar wind market in future.”


U.S. Hybrid Solar Wind Market size, by product, 2013 -2024 (MW) – Global Market Insights

The Red Lake Falls project will make use of GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy technology platform to properly integrate the solar panels through the wind turbine’s converter so that both wind and solar share all the same balance of plant.

“Most energy experts agree that distributed generation will play a major role in the implementation of renewable energy in the US electrical market in the years to come. Juhl Energy’s package design, with the GE hybrid technology, can economically blend clean, renewable energy into the grid at lower cost, plus add reliability to the system.” – Dan Juhl, CEO of Juhl Energy

Commercial hybrid solar-wind projects are under way across the globe as regions seek to match renewable energy sources with demand. For example, a $680 million combined solar and wind power project planned for Port Augusta aims to solve the problem of South Australia’s intermittent electricity generation. Project developer DP Energy is adding solar PV capacity into a 375-megawatt wind farm to make generation more reliable and spread out through the day. DP Energy is also examining whether to add in electricity storage capacity.

Minnesota-based Juhl Energy builds clean energy solutions, including wind, solar and hybrid power project development and management, throughout the U.S. and Canada. Juhl Energy reports it has completed 24 wind farms, accounting for 400 MW’s of wind power, and services every aspect of development from general consultation, construction and management, to system operations and maintenance.

About David Smith (20 Articles)
Contributing editor David Smith is a writer and marketing consultant focusing on clean technology. He has held creative and marketing executive positions in technology companies and marketing agencies, and has a background in journalism and electrical engineering. He has consulted with emerging start-ups and Fortune 500 companies on market positioning, branding and communications strategies. An EV enthusiast, he has spoken on B2B marketing and social media at a variety of industry events.

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