Optimal sizing for a grid-connected hybrid renewable energy system.
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Hybrid renewable energy systems (HRESs) refer to power generating systems that integrate several sources of energy, including renewables, to provide electricity to consumers. HRESs can either work as standalone or grid-connected systems. Since wind and solar have complementary characteristics and are available in most areas, they are considered as suitable energy sources to be combined in an HRES. Moreover, the maturity of technologies needed for generating electricity from wind and solar has turned them into more economical options in many locations. Many countries, including South Africa, have introduced policies and incentives to increase their renewable energy capacities in order to address environmental concerns and reduce pollutant emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, consumers in South Africa have faced the ever-increasing price of electricity and unreliability of the grid since 2007 due to the lack of sufficient electricity production. As a result, employing HRESs has gained popularity among consumers in different sectors. This research is focused on grid-connected hybrid energy systems based on solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind turbines as a potential solution to reduce the dependency of residential sector consumers on the grid in Durban. The aim of the research is to identify the optimal sizing of such a HRES to be cost-effective for consumers over a certain period of time. Since the energy supplied by renewable sources are intermittent and dependent on the geographical location of the system, identifying optimal sizing becomes a challenging task in HRESs. In this research, Durban’s meteorological data and eThekwini municipality tariff rates have been considered. Moreover, two artificial intelligence methods have been used to obtain the optimal sizing for different types of available PV panels, wind turbines and inverters in the market. The results have shown that the combination of PV panels and battery storage (BS) can become a profitable option for Durban area. Moreover, the systems using higher rated power PV panels can start to become profitable in a shorter lifetime. Considering BS in a system can only become a cost-effective choice if we consider a long enough lifespan for the system.