Hybrid Power Plants: Status of Operating and Proposed Plants

Hybrid Power Plants: Status of Operating and Proposed Plants

Operating hybrid plants as of the end of 2022
Operating hybrid plants as of the end of 2022

Improving battery technology and the growth of variable renewable generation are driving a surge of interest in “hybrid” power plants that combine, for example, wind or solar generating capacity with co-located batteries. While most of the current interest involves pairing photovoltaic (PV) plants with batteries, other types of hybrid or co-located plants with wide-ranging configurations have been part of the U.S. electricity mix for decades.

This annually updated briefing tracks and maps existing hybrid or co-located plants across the United States while also synthesizing data from power purchase agreements (PPAs) and generation interconnection queues to shed light on near- and long-term development pipelines. The scope includes “co-located hybrids” that pair two or more resources (e.g., multiple types of generation and/or generation with storage) that are operated largely independently behind a single point of interconnection, and “full hybrids” that also feature coordinated operations of the co-located resources. The focus is on plants with one megawatt (MW) or more of capacity; smaller (often behind-the-meter) projects are also increasingly common, but are not included in this data synthesis.

Key findings from the latest briefing include:

  • At the end of 2022, there were 374 hybrid plants (>1 MW) operating across the United States (+25% compared to the end of 2021), totaling nearly 41 GW of generating capacity (+15%) and 5.4 GW/15.2 GWh of energy storage (+69%/+88%). PV+storage plants are by far the most common, dominating in terms of plant number (213), storage capacity (4.0 GW/12.5 GWh), storage:generator capacity ratio (49%), and storage duration (3.1 hours).  But there are nearly twenty other hybrid plant configurations as well, including several different fossil hybrid categories (each dominated by the fossil component) as well as wind+storage, wind+PV, wind+PV+storage, geothermal+PV, and others.
  • Last year was another strong year for PV+storage hybrids in particular: 59 of the 62 hybrids added in 2022 were PV+storage. As of the end of 2022, there was roughly as much storage capacity operating within PV+storage hybrid plants as in standalone storage plants (~4 GW each). In storage energy terms, however, PV+storage edged out standalone storage by ~2 GWh (12.5 GWh vs. 10.4 GWh, respectively).
  • Interconnection queue data show continued strong developer interest in hybridization. At the close of 2022, there were 51% more hybrid plants—representing 59% more generating capacity—in interconnection queues across the United States than there were at the end of 2021. Solar dominates these proposed plants as well: at the close of 2022, there were 457 GW of solar capacity proposed as a hybrid (representing ~48% of all solar capacity in the queues), most typically pairing PV with battery storage. At the same time, there were 24 GW of wind capacity proposed as a hybrid (representing ~8% of all wind capacity in the queues), again most-often pairing wind with storage. Meanwhile, more than half of all storage in the queues is estimated to be part of a hybrid plant. While many of the plants proposed in the queues will not ultimately reach commercial operations, the depth of interest in hybrid plants—especially PV+storage—is notable, particularly in certain regions. For example, in CAISO, 97% of all solar capacity and 45% of all wind capacity in the queues is proposed as a hybrid.
  • The report also surveys power purchase agreement (PPA) price data from a sample of operating and proposed PV+storage plants. Though PV+storage PPA prices have fallen over time, “levelized storage adders” have recently increased somewhat to ~$7000/MW-month, ~$60/MWh-stored (assuming one full cycle per day), or ~$15/MWh-PV. Some of the recent price increase could simply reflect a trend towards higher battery:PV capacity ratios over time, which increases costs, all else being equal. The well-publicized impact of inflationary and supply chain pressures on battery prices is no doubt a contributor as well.

For further details on these and other findings, please refer to the short PowerPoint-style briefing, which can be downloaded here. The briefing is accompanied by two data visualizations, one focused on online plants and the other on those in interconnection queues, as well as an Excel data file with details on individual plants. A brief overview of this study can also be found here. A webinar discussing this research recorded on September 21, 2023, can be viewed here

Note: Readers interested in hybrids might also find this other short briefing to be of interest, as it summarizes the top ten key findings from hybrid-related research conducted by our group through 2021.