Hybrid renewable: why not?

Managing Editor of Electronics Sourcing Magazine, Jon Barrett

Most months I get the chance to chat with industry friends and colleagues about a range of electronics related subjects. Most times we start with contemporary topics but quickly wander into uncharted territory. So it was during a conversation with industry PR, Nick Foot, who sideswiped me with a simple question I had no answer for: “Why do renewable energy facilities typically employ only a single generation technology, especially offshore”.

I’ve seen plenty of wind, solar, wave and tidal facilities, but never an offshore ‘power station’ using multiple generation hardware.

Nick’s basic argument was why invest in building an offshore facility (miles in size) including the cabling infrastructure and ongoing maintenance facilities without trying to maximize the energy density using multiple techniques?

An internet investigation uncovered plenty of research documents discussing just such an idea but I couldn’t find a single example of what I would describe as a ‘hybrid renewable power station’.

Maybe there is a very simple answer in that the optimum conditions for wind, solar, wave and tidal power can never congregate at a single geographic location due to the inherent requirements and limitations of each technique. Alternatively, maybe the providers of such technologies see each other as competitors rather than partners.

I trust some of my readers know more about this than Nick or I and I look forward to their answers.