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News Article

Hybrid Projects Have Potential in Mexico: Capwatt

By Antonio Gozain | Tue, 03/08/2022 - 18:43

Decarbonizing energy production and reducing emissions has become a global priority. Hybrid systems that combine the most competitive renewable energy technologies are effective at optimizing efficiency while delivering clean energy, in hybrid installations. What is more, they can be further complemented by storage systems, said João Gama, Business Development Director, Capwatt, an option that has been pioneered in Mexico too.

A hybrid system is an electricity generation system in which two or more power producing technologies operate in conjunction. Such a system can be based on conventional energy, renewable energy or storage systems, all of which share an access point and connection to the electrical grid or to the internal network of a consumer. “Hybrid projects with renewable technology make sense when its power generation profiles can complement each other in order to mitigate the variability and intermittency of renewable resources, often based on wind and solar energy,” said Gama.

Some of the most common hybrid blends involve either wind and solar, small-scale hydro and solar, or solar and storage, among others. Hybrid systems efficiently complement technologies, allow for better forecasting and generate a better overall generation profile. Furthermore, they allow users to make better use of natural resources and ensure that the power produced is of better quality and with a higher reliability, to the grid operator’s benefit, said Gama. Battery storage technology specifically boosts energy security and the push to reach climate change goals, efficiently integrating power systems and improving the stability, flexibility, reliability and resilience of the power grid, agrees the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Applied to on-site generation systems, hybridization offers energy efficiency optimization and benefits in terms of savings, explained Gama, who added that there is a wide range of technologies that can adapt to unique client needs. Among the optimization benefits, Gama sees an “increase in load factor for renewable facilities, an efficient back-up energy source, a way to reduce risk of unpredictable intermittency and possibility to lower the environmental impact.” In addition, these systems generate more power, save more costs and reduce the need for separate permits.

Though more investment is needed to generate a higher level of consumer trust for their implementation, IRENA emphasizes that hybrid systems have a bright future ahead. Although the installed capacity of battery storage is still relatively small, it is a the market segment experiencing rapid growth, as it shows dropping costs and strong improvements in performance over time.

Hybrid projects, including those with battery storage, still have not been developed steadily in Mexico, said Gama. He highlighted the “major advantages” that the country has in terms of its geographical conditions and renewable energy potential. “CRE recognizes the importance of storage. It is developing policies and a legal framework to improve its adoption,” Gama said.  

Mexico has a wind and photovoltaic solar hybrid project in Ojuelos, Jalisco. La Paz, Baja California houses two photovoltaic solar and battery storage hybrid power plants. Gama outlined Capwatt’s participation in Portugal’s Graciólica project. “We established a long-term alliance for the development, operation and maintenance of the hybrid renewable project in Graciosa Island.”

The hybrid micro-grid project at Isla Graciosa has a capacity of 4.5MW through its wind farm, 1MW through its solar plant and 7.4MW via a battery system, which provides 2.6 MWh on its own. Capwatt’s own corporate office also features a hybrid project, said Gama. The office boasts a system featuring on-site solar generation, in addition to battery storage systems of 320KW and a network to distribute electricity, thermal energy and water to over 25 consumption points.

Antonio Gozain Antonio Gozain Journalist and Industry Analyst