Way back in 2011, we reported on a project by UK-based Ecotricity that seemed like every TreeHugger's dream: A hybrid solar-wind farm that nurtured bees too. And that park soon started exceeding expectations in terms of energy generation.
Since then, other renewable energy generators in the UK have incorporated sustainable landscaping and bee-friendly features. And now the idea of hybrid solar-wind installations appears to be taking off too.
Ecotricity has recently announced three more solar-wind hybrid parks—two in which solar will be added to existing wind, and one in which it will be incorporated into a wind farm that is in the process of being built.Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, explained the reasoning behind such projects:
“Hybrid renewable energy parks are a great idea – the two power sources are complementary and what you get in combination is a more consistent energy supply; it may sound obvious, but when there’s less sun in the winter, there’s typically more wind, and vice versa in the summer months – so putting wind and sun together has a big impact."
Not only does co-location level out the peaks and troughs of generation from any given array, as Vince suggested, the idea of putting two generating technologies next to each other also allows developers to make the best use of any given land area and to fully utilize the capacity of any given grid connection. (Decisions on locating solar and wind farms are often heavily reliant on their proximity existing grid infrastructure.)
Ecotricity aren't the only developer getting in on the act either. The Guardian reports that Swedish energy company Vattenfall has just announced its first UK solar farm—which will be located on the site of an existing Vattenfall wind farm.
I expect to see more of these to come.