Hybrid power solutions, which combine different energy sources, both have advantages and disadvantages. In this article we explore the pros and cons:
+ Hybrid systems utilise sustainable, renewable energy sources that help reduce the use of fossil fuels and therefore make a major contribution to reducing carbon emissions. They are an important factor in combatting climate change.
– In order to install the infrastructure required for a hybrid energy system, heavy machinery will need to be employed, which may damage the environment. Production of the infrastructure itself also uses a lot of energy from fossil fuels. Some people feel that wind farms are a blight on the environment, from a visual perspective.
+ Due to the modular nature of hybrid systems, they can be scaled up to meet future energy demands simply by adding more wind turbines, solar panels or increasing the size of the BESS.
– Capacity to scale up may not be possible if there are restrictions on available land, for example, on an island. There may be an unexpected increase in demand for energy or changed weather conditions which were not foreseen, which may affect the possibility of scaling up.
+ By utilising multiple energy sources, the impact from outages and faults is reduced, as there is the ability to switch from one energy source to another. Battery energy storage systems (BESS) add to reliability by storing energy for later use, whether when renewables are not generating or when there is increased demand.
– Renewable energy sources are not controllable, and there will be times when they cannot generate energy at full capacity or don’t generate at all. They cannot deliver all energy demands and rely on fossil fuels to supply the shortfall.
+ Hybrid energy systems provide rural and remote communities with options for an energy source that gives them independence and economic benefits. This overcomes the problems associated with locations previously not accessed by the main grid or locations that experience regular outages of the main grid due to environmental and climactic conditions.
– Remote locations can be difficult to access, so installing infrastructure for a hybrid energy system may be cost prohibitive. The location also needs to have sufficient spare land, which may not be possible on some islands, for example. Other locations may meet with objections from groups who are concerned about specific environmental issues, such as land rights or heritage listed areas.
+ With proper planning, all the figures should be available regarding initial installation costs, running and maintenance costs. After adding them up, the overall picture should produce a favourable return on investment. The hybrid energy system enables a more efficient, balanced use of energy generation and distribution, which reduces costs. Changes in behaviour, which are possible in smaller communities, add to reduced costs by utilising energy during the day for things like dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.
– The initial costs at the planning stage can be high to begin with, followed by setting up the infrastructure required. There are many components in a hybrid energy system, and they have a limited lifespan before they are decommissioned and must be replaced. The system also requires more complex management systems, themselves costly, with the added expense of appropriately trained personnel to oversee them.
+ Hybrid power systems are more efficient than a single system because of their capacity to switch from one energy generation source to another, as required. Management systems operate to oversee what is being generated from renewables, how much energy is stored and what the demand is, in real time, and react accordingly.
– The management systems are highly sophisticated and require the appropriate personnel to run and maintain them. This highly skilled labour force may not be readily available for some rural and remote communities.
Every energy system has its advantages and disadvantages.
Understanding capacities of available sources and how energy demands are met is crucial at the design stage to ensure the best possible solution is installed, taking into consideration the many pros and cons.
Despite the potential drawbacks that hybrid power solutions may entail, DEUTZ Australia firmly believes it is a worthwhile investment and a promising solution for the future.
Our latest hybrid power solution, scheduled to be released in Q4 2023, integrates solar panels and an expandable battery storage system, effectively reducing reliance on fossil fuels. This versatile system can serve as both prime power, particularly in remote regions, and also as a backup for the main grid.
Should you require assistance in setting up your initial hybrid power solution or upgrading your existing system, our authorised dealer network and technical support experts are ready to lend a hand.