Tech Insights

Solar-Plus-Storage Plants Dominate Hybrid Power Growth in 2022

September 04, 2023 by Shannon Cuthrell

New data from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory tracks last year’s immense growth in hybrid power plants, particularly in solar-plus-storage configurations. 

California-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) reports significant growth in hybrid power plants that combine wind or solar photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity with batteries for storage. The PV-plus-storage subcategory topped this market last year, though other hybrid configurations saw modest growth. 

 

Goldman Sachs Renewable Power started operating its 390 MW solar + 561 MWh storage Slate Project in California in 2022. The company acquired the hybrid project from Recurrent Energy in 2021.

Goldman Sachs Renewable Power started operating its 390 MW solar + 561 MWh storage Slate Project in California in 2022. The company acquired the hybrid project from Recurrent Energy in 2021. Image used courtesy of Recurrent Energy

 

By the end of 2022, 374 utility-scale hybrid plants – with over 1 megawatt (MW) of capacity each – were operating nationwide, up 25% since 2021. The U.S.’s growing network of hybrid facilities totals nearly 41 gigawatts (GW) of generation capacity (up 15%) and 5.4 GW/15.2 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy storage (up 69% and 88%). In 2022, 62 new hybrid plants added 4.8 GW of operational generation capacity and 2.1 GW/5.9 GWh of storage capacity. 

Meanwhile, nearly 500 GW of additional capacity sits in interconnection queues as proposed projects seek access to the power grid. Regional queues had 51% more hybrid plants in late 2022 than in 2021. 

 

A map of over 300 operating hybrid power plants across the U.S. at the end of 2022.

A map of over 300 operating hybrid power plants across the U.S. at the end of 2022. Image used courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 

 

PV-Plus-Storage Leads the Market

With 213 plants across the U.S., solar-plus-storage is the most common hybrid subcategory. It accounts for 59 of the 62 hybrid facilities added last year. Berkeley Lab reports that hybrid PV-plus-storage plants now have roughly the same battery storage capacity as standalone energy storage facilities, at around 4 GW. However, they have more storage capacity than their standalone counterparts, at 12.5 GWh. 

PV-plus-storage beats all other hybrid categories in its storage-generator capacity ratio, at 49%, and storage duration, at 3.1 hours. The next-best category for both metrics is fossil-plus-storage, with a 16% storage ratio and a duration of 2.3 hours. 

 

Cumulative hybrid plant statistics at the end of 2022. (Note: 108 additional hybrid/co-located plants with other configurations are excluded from this table.)

Cumulative hybrid plant statistics at the end of 2022. (Note: 108 additional hybrid/co-located plants with other configurations are excluded from this table.) Image used courtesy of Berkeley Lab (slide 9)

 

In contrast, wind-plus-storage plants have a low average storage ratio of 14% and a short duration of 0.6 hours, suggesting they mainly target ancillary services offering regulation or reserves rather than energy arbitrage.

 

Interconnection Queue Data Highlights Hybridization Rise

Regional interconnection queues across the U.S. saw a 51% jump in hybrid plants at the end of last year compared to late 2021, with 2,308 hybrid plants expected to add nearly 500 GW of generation capacity. 

Solar is the biggest category of proposed hybrid plants, with 457 GW representing 48% of all solar capacity in interconnection queues. Likewise, solar-plus-battery is the most popular configuration in the queues, with 2,161 proposed plants totaling 430.9 GW of generation capacity. 

Another 24 GW of proposed hybrid wind capacity awaits grid connection, mostly in configurations pairing wind with storage. 

 

Capacity sitting in interconnection queues at the end of 2022.

Capacity sitting in interconnection queues at the end of 2022. Image used courtesy of Berkeley Lab
 

Hybrids account for a significant share of all proposed solar facilities in several regions, particularly in Texas and the West Coast. Hybrid projects comprise 97% of solar capacity and 45% of wind capacity in the California Independent System Operator’s queue. Meanwhile, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has a 42% share of proposed hybrid solar capacity and 4% of wind in its queue. 

It’s worth noting that much of this proposed capacity will not come to fruition, as most projects that apply for interconnection are withdrawn years later. Only one-fifth of proposed projects seeking interconnection from 2000 to 2017 had been built at the end of 2022, according to Berkeley Lab. Projects built in 2022 faced a median wait time of five years.

 

Domestic Energy Storage Manufacturing Scales Up

The ongoing growth of hybrid power generation coincides with a boom in domestic manufacturing for components in energy storage systems, solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy technologies. According to a report from the American Clean Power Association (ACP), the private sector has announced $271 billion in investments for utility-scale clean energy and manufacturing projects over the last 12 months. That includes over $22 billion across 83 new or expanded manufacturing facilities. ACP anticipates a more than fifteenfold increase in grid-scale battery storage production once the announced facilities start operations. 

Plants aside, battery makers are expanding their manufacturing output as last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) added new incentives for cleantech production. For example, Oregon-based ESS, a leading long-duration energy storage system provider, is expanding its iron flow battery production to meet growing market demand. Its manufacturing line in Oregon has 800 MWh of battery module production capacity annually, though the company plans to scale to over 2 GWh in the coming years. ESS cited the IRA as a factor driving its $170.4 million in economic activity nationwide in 2022. 

Meanwhile, Georgia-based energy storage provider Stryten Energy recently celebrated the installation of its advanced vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) in partnership with utility provider Snapping Shoals EMC. The project is the first VRFB energy storage system built and installed in Georgia, and all of the company’s battery development is domestic.