Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems: Design Optimization Analysis and Tools

Dr. Susan W. Stewart Applied Research Laboratory The Pennsylvania State University Dr. Jeffrey R.S. Brownson Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering The Pennsylvania State University

Hybrid renewable energy systems that are designed to match load requirements can allow for a more broad expansion of the economic integration of renewable energy across the country. This study outlines the design of a solar-wind hybrid renewable energy system for a grid-tied home with a time dependent electric rate structure based on previous independent solar PV and wind turbine studies. This approach then leads to a design philosophy for hybrid renewable energy systems.

Every location on earth has its own unique set of natural resources to draw upon for sustainable energy production, as shown for the cases of solar and wind resources in Figures 1 and 2 below. As these resources are generally g y of an intermittent nature ( (as shown in Figures g 3 and 4), ) hybrid y renewable energy systems will be necessary in many situations to achieve economical energy independence while meeting our inconsistent demand for electricity with minimal or no energy storage. Wind and solar resources often have complimentary attributes that combined can more closely match energy load requirements. This match can be customized for optimum economy by adjusting the orientation and design of the PV system as well as the rotor length and generator size of the wind turbine system.

Rayl (2008) investigated optimal positioning of photovoltaic panels to more closely match the load of a typical residence (with peak power consumption in the mornings and early evenings) for a site in State College, PA using Transient Energy System Simulation (TRANSYS) software. The results, shown in Figure 5, show the advantages of having alternating East-West azimuth panels with a 25 degree southern tilt. While the peak power output is lower than a fixed panel oriented with the same 25 degree southern tilt and a south azimuth, the energy output is spread out over a wider range of times, including those which are the peak load times. These peak load times are typically the same as the peak loads on the grid as shown in Figure 6 below.

Figure 5:Solar Power Output for Solar Azimuth and East-West Azimuth Panel Orientation (Rayl, 2008)

Figure 2: National Wind Power Resource Map

Figure 1: National Solar Power Resource Map

Incident solar radiation varies not only by latitude and diurnal patterns, but also by instantaneous changes in cloud cover and air quality. Figure 3 shows the difference between incident radiation on a clear day vs.a cloudy day. Wind speeds also vary with location as well as in time due to various meteorological and geophysical mechanisms. Figure 4 shows a sample set of wind data and how this translates in to power output using a typical 2 MW wind turbine power curve.

Figure 7: Annual Wind Velocity Variation with Time of Day and Season Figure 7 shows the annual average wind speed vs. time of day for four representative seasonal months for a site off the coast of Georgia. While evening winds speeds are strong and vary little throughout the year, year it can be seen that mid-day there is a significant dip in the average wind speeds, in particular during the summer season. This is a common phenomena for wind resources in many locations. Figure 8 shows this wind resource overlaid on the solar power output study from Rayl (2008). It can be seen that the dip in power output during the summer months coincides with the peak in power output for a 25 degree tilt south azimuth PV array, but also if the interest is in matching the load profile for a home, the morning and evening peaks and the night time load help provide more consistent power throughout the entire day and night. If a time dependent rate structure for electricity is considered, there are significant economic advantages to producing power at peak RTO load times. If there is a premium offered from the utility for purchase of the “green power” there might also be an advantage to design the system to Figure 8: Overlay of Timing of Wind produce a maximum amount of power during these peak RTO load Resource vs. Solar Resource Availability periods, rather than trying to match the load of the home.
These considerations must be included in the design process of the hybrid renewable energy system for maximum benefits. In fact, a study by Schmidt (2007) demonstrated that the hourly time-dependent valuation of electricity in addition to the wind resource characteristics should be considered in the site specific design of wind turbine systems, including tower height, rotor length and generator size. Schmidt found a difference in simple payback as much as 4% higher for the coastal Georgia site studied by considering the hourly time-dependent valuation of electricity versus an annual average valuation of electricity.

Figure 6: RTO Load Profile (Rayl, 2008)

Figure 3: Sample Radiation Availabilities for a Clear and a Cloudy Day

Analysis Tools
March 2005, Power Output
2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0

March 2005, Average Wind Speed
25 Average Wind Speed (m/s) 20 15 10 5 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 Day of the Month 30 35



Figure 4: Sample Monthly Wind Speed Profile and Associated Power Output
While the intermittency of solar and wind resources provides for a challenge in using these energy sources to fulfill human electricity demands, there are situations in which a combination of renewable energy systems can be designed to fulfill this demand when and where it is needed, with minimal or no energy storage requirements.

Users of Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems: Homes, Businesses, Government…

Figure 9: Hybrid Renewable Energy System Analysis Tool Diagram
Rayl, J. 2008. Integration of Panel Orientation to Energy Loads. Report for PSU 2009 Solar Decathlon Team. Schmidt, M. 2007. The Economic Optimization of Wind Turbine Design. M.S. Thesis, Georgia Tech.

Susan W. Stewart sstewart@psu.edu 814-863-5381

P.O. Box 30 State College, PA 16804

Asse essments

20 Day of the Month


The economics of renewable energy systems can be enhanced by drawing upon multiple renewable energy resources as well as by considering the electric rate structure in the systems’ design. Work currently underway includes development of a design approach for hybrid renewable energy systems as depicted in Figure 9. In conjunction with this, TRNSYS software is being used to create transient hybrid renewable system models of real systems. The model will then be verified and integrated into the design approach to create an overall hybrid renewable energy system design tool. This tool could then be used to quickly and effectively integrate renewable energy technologies into any building or facility for a wide variety of users.

Efficient Convertor Co-generation Renewables Behavior Modification Other

• Issues • Performance Data • Projected Performance • Design • Control

• Tax credits • Carbon credits • Gov’t $

• • • • Land use Visual impact Greenhouse gases Wildlife

Power Output (kW)


• Projected behavior • Effect of outreach • Validation


Energy and Conservation Model

Re educed Energy Costs