ScottishPower has unveiled a hybrid strategy it says will maximise the potential of onshore renewables in the UK and Ireland, with the Iberdrola-owned British utility building solar for the first time and integrating storage.

To make the most of land resources and optimise connections the grid, the company intends to retrofit a mixture of solar and batteries at its existing wind farm sites, with the vast majority of future applications for new projects consisting of more than one clean energy technology.

ScottishPower anticipates that the vast majority of over 1GW of new onshore wind projects currently being developed by the company will also include proposals for solar or batteries, or a mixture of both technologies.

“We are showing with technology, grid investment, innovation, and smart systems that we can put more renewables onto the system,” ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson told Recharge at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid.

“But undoubtedly, part of that has to be about how we manage storage, voltage control and the interface of the projects with the grid. Therefore batteries have become an important part of that plan. It will allow us to put more power onto the grid and to do it without having to invest in more wires and sub-stations.

“So it's all about how we use the system in a smarter way to get more out of existing projects. You are capturing and connecting more renewable power, and doing it at a lower cost.”

Planning applications have been submitted to add solar technology to the Carland Cross (Cornwall), Coal Clough (Lancashire) and Coldham (Cambridgeshire) wind farms. Further applications are currently being developed to add solar to wind farms in Scotland and Ireland, in addition to further solar projects in England.

“Every green megawatt of electricity will be crucial if we stand any chance of hitting net zero in 2050, so innovation from energy companies is more important than ever,” said Anderson. “This means squeezing the absolute maximum potential out of every clean energy project that we consider.

“In the UK and Ireland the perfect of blend of clean power from onshore renewables should include a mixture of clean energy technologies. 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.

“As well as retrofitting additional technologies to existing sites, as we are already doing, our strategy going forward will see us deliver hybrid projects as standard. In the next 18 months I believe that hybrids will be the new normal for all renewables developers.”

In the wider Iberdrola group, solar is already a prominent feature in Spain, the US, Mexico and Brazil. This includes the 500MW Núñez de Balboa solar scheme in the south of Spain, the largest such project currently under construction in Europe.

ScottishPower won approval earlier this year from the Scottish government to build the UK’s largest battery linked to a wind farm. The 50MW lithium-ion battery will store power from the 539MW Whitelee project in Scotland, currently the UK’s biggest operating onshore wind facility.