Wind turbine makers in India are looking at building more renewable energy projects that would combine solar and wind in a bid to provide a reliable and cost-effective power supply.
Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA, the largest wind-turbine maker in India by market share, is preparing to announce its first wind-solar project within the next two months. Suzlon Energy Ltd., India's largest domestic manufacturer of wind turbines, says it expects to focus on hybrids starting next year.
"We feel that hybrid projects will make 50 to 60 percent of our sales over the next three years," Ramesh Kymal, the chief executive officer of Gamesa's India operations, said in an interview in New Delhi. "In a couple of months an announcement of a hybrid project from Gamesa can be expected."
The major advantage of a solar-wind hybrid is a boost to the reliability of the system as power generation from the two different sources supplement each other. Combining the two technologies and sharing a grid connection can also increase capacity, developers say. Hybrids hold an additional appeal in India where land acquisition remains a challenge.
India aims to install 10 gigawatts of hybrid capacity by 2022, according to a draft policy released earlier this year by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
Interest in hybrids is spreading. In 2014, Toshiba Corp. and Mitsui & Co. announced the completion of a solar and wind project in Japan's Aichi prefecture. That project, developed in cooperation with six other companies including Toray Industries Inc., consists of 50 megawatts of solar capacity and 6 megawatts of wind. Canberra-based Windlab Systems Pty Ltd. and Japan's Eurus Energy Holdings Cop. are building a large-scale hybrid solar-wind plant in the state of Queensland.
"A common grid infrastructure for wind and solar installations will bring stability in the grid and will help avoid curtailment and seasonality of energy production," Tulsi Tanti, founder and chairman of Pune, India-based Suzlon Energy, said in an interview, adding that wind and solar are complementary.
Suzlon will focus more intensely on wind and solar hybrid projects beginning next year, with a target to win market share of more than 40 percent in the next five years, Tanti said. In the case of Gamesa, the Zamudio, Spain-based turbine manufacturer has already identified some projects owned by existing customers that could benefit by adding solar, Kymal said.
Other developers have also shown interest. Inox Wind Ltd.'s wind sites in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are all ideal for hybrid projects, said Devansh Jain, a director at Inox, adding that he's waiting for the ministry's policy to be finalized before moving forward.
"Wind-solar hybrid projects will boost growth but will not be a fundamental game changer," Jain said in a phone interview, saying the government's auctions of wind projects will likely be the biggest driver of growth in the sector.
The interest in hybrid projects comes as India pushes aggressively to develop its clean energy capacity. Under a effort led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is aiming by 2022 to install 100 gigawatts of solar capacity and 60 gigawatts of wind power.
India installed a record 3.5 gigawatts of wind in the fiscal year ended March 31, according to the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association.
"Hybrid projects offer advantages in sharing of resources for construction and maintenance of a project, as well as power transmission," according to Shantanu Jaiswal, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst in New Delhi.