A new study by the Reiner Lemoine Institut and Solarpraxis AG has found that solar and wind power generation complement each other better than previously thought.
The study examined the surface area where solar photovoltaic systems and wind turbines were installed together. In that same surface area, twice the amount of electricity was being generated, and the shading produced by the wind turbines accounted for a mere 1 to 2% loss in the photovoltaic system — which is much less than previously thought would be the case.
One of the strong benefits is the construction of these types of power plants do not require grid expansion since the plants generate wind and solar power at different intervals and during complementary seasons. This helps ensure that the level of energy being fed into the grid is more steady than that of wind or photovoltaic power plants alone.
“Until now, it was thought that the shadows cast on solar plants by wind turbines led to high yield losses. The study shows, however, that these shading losses are much lower than expected, provided the hybrid power plant is well designed,” said Alexander Woitas, head of the engineering department at Solarpraxis AG, parent company of pv-magazine.com.
In the study, they also calculated what effects combining photovoltaic and wind power plants will have on power grids on both a global and regional level.
The bottom line is: solar power plants generate more solar power in the summer, while wind turbines generally produce a lot more electricity during the colder parts of the year — this balances out the overall supply to the grid and keeps it more stable throughout the year.
To continue the research, a photovoltaic system will be retrofitted with wind turbines in Templin (near Berlin). The pilot plant will be analyzed by Solarpraxis, the Reiner Lemoine Institut, and project partners. The data will be used for feasibility studies of future integration between wind and solar power. This is all part of the German government’s Zwanzig20 research initiative.