The role of hybrid parks in a smarter energy system

Ludvig-Bydén-Svensk-SolenergiThe emerging importance of renewable energy presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Our journey towards a carbon-neutral future is accelerating and giving rise to many exciting innovations. Ludvig Bydén, a business developer at Swedish Solar Energy, is actively promoting the development of solar power in Sweden. He points out that: “For Sweden, exploring hybrid solutions with solar, wind and battery storage is crucial to optimise electricity production in a smart way.”

Although the solar market in Sweden is booming, it faces challenges when it comes to large-scale ground-based solar parks. Ludvig Bydén explains:

– The obstacles we face today for large-scale solar power lie in the long, complicated and unpredictable authorisation processes. Although solar panels are being installed at a rapid pace in both homes and businesses, for example on large logistics and industrial roofs, they currently account for only around 2% of total electricity production in Sweden. Our goal is to reach 15% of total electricity production in the short term, with a specific ambition to produce 30 TWh by 2030.

The positive public attitude, combined with the potential of large-scale ground-based solar parks, indicates a promising future for solar power. There are many applications for licences for solar parks awaiting approval by regional authorities (länsstyrelsen).

– Our largest ground-mounted solar park in Sweden today has an installed capacity of 22 MW. If we look at Denmark, which has less than a tenth of the area of Sweden, the largest is 300 MW. So the potential is huge, Ludvig Bydén says.

A significant parameter in the assessment process for ground-based solar parks is precisely the land use and the valuation of various social interests. Although many farmers are interested and the share of low-productivity fallow land is increasing, there is an ongoing debate about the balance between agriculture and renewable energy.

The future is in hybrid solutions

Ludvig emphasises the potential of hybrid solutions as a significant response to the challenges of ground-based solar parks.

– There are many advantages to hybrid parks and one of them is access to land. For a project developer, access to land and grid connection is crucial. By co-locating different types of power in the same place, you will use land and the grid more efficiently, Ludvig Bydén says.

Haringvliet – Vattenfall’s hybrid park in the Netherlands

Vattenfall has successfully established its first hybrid energy park in the Netherlands, combining wind, solar and battery storage. With a total capacity of 60 MW, the park is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of approximately 40,000 households.

– Vattenfall’s Haringvliet park is a good example of the positive establishment of multiple power sources on the same site. They create the opportunity to better utilise the local infrastructure and substation and diversify revenues. The best thing about the combination of wind and solar is that they have very low co-variation in percentage terms. This means that the wind is at its best when the sun is not shining at its strongest and vice versa. Both in terms of time of day and time of year, Ludvig Bydén says.

A local connection is normally dimensioned based on the maximum production capacity. Because wind and solar have a low co-variation, the grid connection can receive wind when it is producing at its maximum and solar when it is producing at its maximum. At times when both types of power exceed the capacity of the grid, the storage resource can take care of the surplus. This means you can use the same grid connection and get more electricity production with a more even flow.

“Storage is a great enabler”

Storage is a further element that strengthens hybrid parks.

– Once there is co-variation between power sources, a storage option such as hydrogen or batteries can further facilitate the grid. Storage is a great enabler for solving the challenges in the grid. It is a win-win because the grid owner gets a more consistent supply of electricity and does not have to dimension the grid connection for peak production, which is actually used only for a small part of the time but can free up more space in the grid and utilise it better. In times like these, when we face challenges in our electricity supply infrastructure, alternative solutions that optimise its use without necessarily having to expand are highly desirable, Ludvig Bydén concludes.

Elfack returns to the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre from 6 to 9 May 2025.