Renewable and hybrid energy systems (HESs) are expanding due to environmental concerns of climate change, air pollution, and depleting fossil fuels. Moreover, HESs can be cost effective in comparison with conventional power plants. This article reviews current methods for designing optimal HESs. The survey shows these systems are often developed on a medium scale in remote areas and stand-alone, but there is a global growing interest for larger scale deployments that are grid connected. Examples of HESs are PV-wind-battery and PV-diesel-battery. PV and wind energy sources are the most widely adopted. Diesel and batteries are often used but hydrogen is increasing as a clean energy carrier. The design of an efficient HES is challenging because HES models are nonlinear, non-convex, and composed of mixed-type variables that cannot be solved by traditional optimization methods. Alternatively, two types of approaches are typically used for designing optimal HESs: simulation-based optimization and metaheuristic optimization methods. Simulation-based optimization methods are limited in view of human intervention that makes them tedious, time consuming, and error prone. Metaheuristics are more efficient because they can handle automatically a range of complexities. In particular, multi-objective optimization (MOO) metaheuristics are the most appropriate for optimal HES because HES models involve multiple objectives at the same time such as cost, performance, supply/demand management, grid limitations, and so forth. This article shows that the energy research community has not fully utilized state-of-the-art MOO metaheuristics. More recent MOO metaheuristics could be used such as robust optimization and interactive optimization.