Scottish Power plans to squeeze more renewable electricity from its onshore windfarms by covering the ground beside the turbines with photovoltaic panels and batteries.
The wind power firm has applied for permission to build its first solar power projects beneath the blades of its existing windfarms in Cornwall, Lancashire and Coldham.
Scottish Power says it hopes to include solar panels in the vast majority of its future onshore windfarms across Scotland and Ireland, depending on whether the ground conditions are suitable for panels.
Keith Anderson, the Scottish Power’s chief executive, said: “Every green megawatt of electricity will be crucial if we stand any chance of hitting net zero in 2050. This means squeezing the absolute maximum potential out of every clean energy project that we consider.”
The Guardian revealed last month that Scottish Power had kicked off plans for an expansion of onshore windfarm projects across Scotland in anticipation of an expected government U-turn on support for wind power projects.
The company’s renewable energy division has considered almost 100 sites in Scotland and Ireland for a new breed of windfarm that uses fewer powerful turbines and can be fitted with solar panels and batteries.
In some cases, adding 10MW panels and 10MW of energy storage could double the green energy capacity of small windfarm sites.
“In the UK and Ireland the perfect of blend of clean power from onshore renewables should include a mixture of clean energy technologies,” Anderson said.
“The costs for building wind, solar and batteries have reduced considerably in recent years, and they complement each other very well. They perform best at different times of the day and at different times of the year.”
Scottish Power is developing more than 1,000MW of new onshore wind capacity, however the UK will need to build at least this capacity of onshore wind every year for the next three decades if it hopes to meet its 2050 climate targets, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
Anderson said: “In the next 18 months I believe hybrids will be the new normal for all renewable energy developers.”