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DOE report highlights opportunities of hybrid energy systems

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a new report, Hybrid Energy Systems: Opportunities for Coordinated Research, highlighting innovative opportunities to spur joint research on hybrid energy systems (HES). These opportunities could drive the production of valuable fuels, chemicals, and products, provide greater cost savings, increase grid flexibility, and enhance environmental performance across a range of DOE-funded technologies.

For the report, the authors defined HES as systems involving multiple energy generation, storage, and/or conversion technologies that are integrated—through an overarching control framework or physically—to achieve cost savings and enhanced capabilities, value, efficiency, or environmental performance compared to the independent alternatives.


Dimensions that define HES. Source: DOE

This definition is consistent with, but broader than, industry definitions. As defined for the report, HES are related to, but distinct from, colocated resources, which share some characteristics with HES but have more limited opportunities for operational synergies.

HES present an opportunity to optimize power plant designs to maximize the services that are useful to and valued by the electric and broader energy systems. They can vary in terms of their subcomponents, linkages (e.g., locational, physical, and operational), and application spaces (e.g., customer-sited or utility-scale). HES can also be configured to provide various electric and nonelectric products (e.g., fuels). For example, HES can have electricity as their only output, with common examples including various generation technologies combined with energy storage. In other cases, HES can consist of industrial processes that utilize generated heat or power to produce a commodity-scale product (e.g., using electrical or thermal energy to produce hydrogen from water or a methane source).

Recent analysis, experimentation, and deployments of HES suggest advantages currently outweigh disadvantages for some technology combinations. They also indicate that hybridization could be an effective strategy for realizing net-economic benefits relative to independent plants by allowing multiple technologies to share costs and infrastructure; enabling the provision of more grid services (or the same grid services at a lower cost); and enhancing system reliability, flexibility, and resilience. Hybridization can also help mitigate financial penalties for variable resources (e.g., integration charges and imbalance penalties) and overcome suboptimal technical requirements or limited participation models for the provision of services (e.g., capacity or ancillary services).

—“Hybrid Energy Systems: Opportunities for Coordinated Research”

The report is a collaborative effort among DOE and nine National Laboratories. The report finds that hybrid energy systems that integrate multiple generation, storage, and energy conversion processes can play a major role in decarbonizing the US economy. These systems can produce high-value commodities such as hydrogen; power industrial processes; and provide more grid flexibility to increase the deployment of renewable energy technologies.

Members of DOE’s Hybrids Task Force include representatives from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Electricity, the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Fossil Energy, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Technical staff from Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, SLAC National Laboratory Accelerator, and Sandia National Laboratories also contributed to the report.


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