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Unlocking the Flexibility of Hybrid Resources

Confessions of a recovering hybrids skeptic

When it comes to hybrids, I have to admit I am a recovering skeptic. When they first showed up on the scene, my initial reaction was that of a system planner - give me the solar and give me the storage and I will find the best way to operate the grid. I thought the trend in hybridization was just a short-term rush to capture investment tax credits.

Was I wrong!

In 2019, I wrote a post that posited the question "are we approaching a hybrid solar + storage future?" Well that future is officially here, but it's not just for solar. The new hybrids will include all forms of renewables, storage, and flexible load.

This week we released a report with Energy Systems Integration Group (ESIG) that we wrote along with Erik Ela, Michael Goggin, Mark Ahlstrom, and input from the rest of our task force. According to an LBNL report, since I wrote that post in 2019, the total number of hybrid resources proposed in U.S. interconnection queues has increased from almost nothing to more than 150 GW, constituting approximately one-third of all new solar proposals and over half of new storage proposals.

In the report we break down the key drivers of hybridization. It's not just about tax credits anymore - in fact we ranked the top 10 drivers. In my opinion avoiding transmission and distribution upgrades at interconnection will soon hit the top spot. Hybridization allows developers to optimize against a broken interconnection queue.

Ultimately hybrid resources unlock flexibility - for developers, asset owners, and grid operators. Hybrid resources are flexible and can be tailored to fit specific site conditions, grid needs, interconnection rules, and market conditions—and are more easily modified as these factors evolve.

But we shouldn't take this opportunity for granted. There is still more work to be done. Specifically, requirements and incentives for hybrids should follow guiding principles including to:

  • Use technology-agnostic definitions

  • Leverage existing points of interconnection for additional resources

  • Create multiple, broad participation models to facilitate greater flexibility and innovation, while allowing resources to offer all grid services within their capability

  • Allow the resource owner to manage internal operation of the hybrid facility

  • Generally reconsider traditional requirements that close doors for future flexibility and services in a transforming grid

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