If falling costs for renewable energy and batteries and rising carbon-reduction mandates are any indication, hybrid resources are going to be a key part of the future power grid. In vanguard markets such as California, hybrids — battery-backed solar, primarily — are expected to be the dominant grid resource as soon as a decade from now.
But integrating hybrid resources into energy markets that were designed around fossil-fueled power plants and standalone renewables, and are just beginning to come to terms with batteries as a primary resource, is a complicated task. The regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) that manage the bulk electricity markets serving about two-thirds of the country are taking on this challenge in very different ways and at different speeds.
Some of them are proposing rules that project developers fear will undermine hybrid projects’ value and limit their growth. And some industry participants say it might be better to shift the complexity of integrating hybrid resources from the ISOs and RTOs to hybrid project operators themselves.