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Hybrid Power Technologies for Power Generation

Photo of a silver, cube-shaped fuel cell system unit sitting on a concrete pad next to a chain-link fence at dusk. Outbuildings appear beyond the fence.

Fuel cells, such as this one located in Vancouver, Canada, produce so little noise and pollution that they can be installed wherever their power is needed.

Photo of two black and white, dairy cows in a green pasture looking over a barbed-wire fence on a sunny day—not a cloud in the blue sky. A row of large, three-bladed wind turbines on towers rise above the pasture behind the cows.

Wind turbines, such as these turbines installed on a farm in southwest Minnesota, coexist very well with ranching and farming.

Hybrid power systems are combinations of two or more energy conversion devices (e.g., electricity generators or storage devices), or two or more fuels for the same device, that when integrated, overcome limitations that may be inherent in either.

Examples of hybrid power systems include:

  • Wind generation combined with diesel generation
  • Photovoltaic generation combined with battery storage or diesel generation
  • Fuel cell generation combined with microturbine generation.

Hybrid systems can produce synergistic benefits in which the "whole is greater than the sum of its parts." System efficiencies are typically higher than that of the individual technologies used separately, and higher reliability can be accomplished with redundant technologies and/or energy storage. Some hybrid systems include both, which can simultaneously improve the quality and availability of power.

The following report, prepared for the DOE Office of Industrial Technologies by Arthur D. Little in January 2000, includes an examination of industrial opportunities for employing hybrid systems that combine fuel cells with industrial turbines:

  • Opportunities for Micropower and Fuel Cell/Gas Turbine Hybrid Systems in Industrial Applications: main text and appendices