The feasibility of hybrid solar-biomass power plants in India

Jonathan Nixon, Prasanta Dey, Philip Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We assess the feasibility of hybrid solar-biomass power plants for use in India in various applications including tri-generation, electricity generation and process heat. To cover this breadth of scenarios we analyse, with the help of simulation models, case studies with peak thermal capacities ranging from 2 to 10 MW. Evaluations are made against technical, financial and environmental criteria. Suitable solar multiples, based on the trade-offs among the various criteria, range from 1 to 2.5. Compared to conventional energy sources, levelised energy costs are high - but competitive in comparison to other renewables such as photovoltaic and wind. Long payback periods for hybrid plants mean that they cannot compete directly with biomass-only systems. However, a 1.2-3.2 times increase in feedstock price will result in hybrid systems becoming cost competitive. Furthermore, in comparison to biomass-only, hybrid operation saves up to 29% biomass and land with an 8.3-24.8 $/GJ/a and 1.8-5.2 ¢/kWh increase in cost per exergy loss and levelised energy cost. Hybrid plants will become an increasingly attractive option as the cost of solar thermal falls and feedstock, fossil fuel and land prices continue to rise. In the foreseeable future, solar will continue to rely on subsidies and it is recommended to subsidise preferentially tri-generation plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-554
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Energy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Nixon, J, Dey, P & Davies, P, 'The feasibility of hybrid solar-biomass power plants in India' Energy, vol. 46, no. 1 (2012) DOI


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