USAID-NREL Partnership Newsletter – Spring 2020

Read our Spring 2020 issue for updates on our country activities, events, global technical platforms, and resources.

The USAID-NREL Partnership addresses critical challenges to scaling up advanced energy systems through global tools and technical assistance, including the Renewable Energy Data Explorer, Greening the Grid, the International Jobs and Economic Development Impacts tool, and the Resilient Energy Platform.

Featured News

Three people solving an equation using a whiteboard.
Photo by Pat Corkery, NREL

Questions about Navigating the Impacts of COVID-19 within the Energy Sector? We Can Help.

Our team of experts can answer these types of questions:

  • How can we ensure a reliable power supply to critical infrastructure as we respond to COVID-19 impacts?
  • What are the best practices to respond to disruptions in our supply chains that support grid-wide operation and maintenance?
  • How can we consider energy development and clean energy as we turn to economic recovery and potential stimulus packages?
  • What are the best practices for building systems operations (such as heating ventilation or air conditioning) to support the health of occupants given the COVID-19 pandemic?

Learn more by visiting our COVID-19 Ask an Expert webpage.

Submit COVID-19 Energy Sector Impact Questions

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Energy Sector Workforce Training Enables Colombia's Power Sector Transformation

USAID Colombia and NREL are supporting the government of Colombia in transforming their energy sector by providing targeted technical assistance and comprehensive workforce training. USAID Colombia, NREL, the U.S. Energy Association and USAID's Scaling up Renewable Energy Program are working as a team to develop a series of training modules designed to ready Colombia's energy sector workforce to participate in the construction and operation of clean energy projects that deliver variable renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to the grid. Participants of the training program represent all the regions and various organizations within the Colombian energy sector. The selection process, which prioritized the inclusion of women, includes early-career professionals in positions that could have potential for future leadership roles.

Additionally, USAID Colombia and NREL will provide support for a key aspect of the program focused on providing electricity to 117 communities identified within Colombia's ratified peace zones. The goal of this project is to increase the productive use of electricity in these areas via reliable, constant power and clean energy microgrids.

Originally designed to be presented in-person in Colombia, the program's partners worked swiftly and diligently to convert seven training modules into a robust online curriculum because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Learn more about the workforce training program in Colombia by visiting our program webpage.

Colombia's Power Sector Transformation Video

Versión en Español

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English Version

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What's New in Global Technical Platforms

Renewable Energy Explorer

RE Explorer logo

Renewable Energy (RE) Explorer provides renewable energy data, geospatial analysis tools, and technical assistance to support data-driven renewable energy decision making.

Learn more by visiting the RE Explorer website.

New Guides Provide Information on Using RE Data Explorer in Auction Processes and Project Development

Multiple wind turbines on a flat landscape with mountains in the back.
Judith Gap Wind Energy Center, Judith Gap, Montana 135 MW, 90 GE 1.5 MW SLE turbines Photo by Invenergy LLC
The RE Data Explorer geospatial analysis tool and its underlying data can inform many types of vital renewable energy decisions. To support decision makers, the RE Explorer team developed two new guides that specifically feature how the tool can inform renewable energy auction processes and renewable energy project development stages. Each guide includes an overview of stages or good practices to support program or project design, when and how the RE Data Explorer tool can provide insights, and examples of instances in which the RE Data Explorer tool has been used in related circumstances. The guides are designed to be concise and user-friendly.

Read RE Data Explorer — Use of the Tool To Support Renewable Energy Auctions Processes.

Read RE Data Explorer — Use of the Tool To Support Renewable Energy Project Development.

Greening the Grid

Greening the Grid logo

Greening the Grid is a platform for expertly curated information, tools, and technical assistance to support countries in power system transformation and grid modernization. Greening the Grid addresses technical challenges around grid modernization and advanced energy integration through the Grid Integration toolkit, the Renewable Energy Zones toolkit, and the Distributed Photovoltaics toolkit.

Learn more by visiting the Greening the Grid website.

Behind-The-Meter Solar-Plus-Storage Regulatory Considerations Inform Retail Program Design

A diagram of the linkages between power generation, demand, and storage.
Behind-the-meter energy storage systems paired with distributed photovoltaic (DPV)—with the capability to act as both generation and load—represent a unique and disruptive power sector solution capable of providing a range of important services to customers, utilities, and the broader power system.

How should regulators, utilities, and policymakers manage the range of challenges and opportunities that increased behind-the-meter energy storage deployment will bring to the power system, in particular when these systems are paired with DPV? The USAID-NREL Partnership produced two reports intended to offer key regulatory and program design considerations for facilitating DPV-plus-storage programs for retail customers—one focused on applying examples from the United States to international contexts and one focused specifically on the power sector in India.

Building on insights derived from the above reports, and followed by a visit from NREL and USAID's Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Deployment 2.0 (PACE-D 2.0) to the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) in February 2020, PACE-D 2.0 submitted a set of official proposals to GERC's FY 2020–2021 ratemaking process for improvements to retail tariffs. Two proposals to make retail tariffs for residential solar customers more grid-friendly were accepted. These also provide incentives for the deployment of behind-the-meter grid interactive storage that could be dispatched to both reduce customer bills and reduce grid costs.

Global Power System Transformation Consortium Supports Power System Operators

Transmission pylons and lines stretching across a flat landscape with mountains in the background.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

Through partnership with the newly established Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) Consortium, the USAID-NREL Partnership and Greening the Grid are able to provide USAID Missions and partners streamlined access to a group of world-class technical institutions as well as a global network of power system operator peers, such as the California Independent System Operator and the Australian Energy Market Operator, which can support ongoing power sector programming and provide cutting edge technical assistance and support to system operators and utilities.

The G-PST Consortium was founded on the premise that system operators are a critical stakeholder group responsible for implementing energy transition goals. System operators also play a critical role in informing and building confidence in goals and policies for clean energy. The G-PST Consortium provides technical assistance to system operators and utilities, helping to support scaled up investment in transmission infrastructure and clean energy, as well as the development of the critical skills and capabilities necessary to operate tomorrow's power systems with increasing amounts of renewable energy. For more information about the G-PST Consortium, email

Greening the Grid To Add Transport Electrification and Energy Storage Toolkit

Vehicle electrification and energy storage are both important, emerging clean energy topics. At this stage, electrifying vehicles is the only economically viable pathway to achieving clean energy transitions in the transport sector at-scale. Additionally, energy storage is a topic area where there is clear interest in more foundational, capacity-building resources and strategic advice for planners and policymakers.

Based on demand from USAID Missions and partners, the USAID-NREL Partnership is developing knowledge products, resources, and strategic approaches to address transportation electrification and energy storage, including decision guides, FAQs, webinars, and targeted technical assistance. These resources will be developed throughout 2020, so keep an eye on Greening the Grid and this newsletter for more updates. For more information about the USAID-NREL Partnership's work with emerging technologies, watch Electrifying Transport in USAID Partner Countries: Key Issues and Case Studies.

Resilient Energy Platform

Resilient Energy Platform logo

The Resilient Energy Platform provides expertly curated resources, training materials, tools, and direct technical assistance in planning resilient, sustainable, and secure power systems. The platform enables decision makers to assess power sector vulnerabilities, identify resilience solutions, and make informed decisions to enhance power sector resilience at all scales.

Learn more by visiting the Resilient Energy Platform website.

Resilient Energy Platform Adds Cybersecurity Toolkit

A stock photo of a desktop computer with figures and a map on the screen.
Photo from iStock

Digitalization of the electrical grid promises to revolutionize operations and provide benefits to both utilities and consumers. However, rapid digitalization that does not address cybersecurity can result in vulnerabilities that expose confidential information to cyber criminals. The Resilient Energy Platform is developing resources to address cybersecurity and better understand how power systems can take advantage of the benefits of digitalization while remaining secure and safe. The first resource produced under this topic area is a new quick read on cybersecurity and distributed energy resources. Additionally, the Resilient Energy Platform is engaging in a webinar series on cybersecurity and the power system. The first webinar, Building Blocks To Support Cybersecurity in the Power Sector, will be held at 8 a.m. MT on June 25. Register at GoToWebinar.


NREL at ACEF: Join Us at the First Virtual Asia Clean Energy Forum

The first virtual Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) will be held June 15–19, 2020. As one of Asia's leading clean energy events, ACEF connects diverse stakeholders from across Asia and the globe, facilitates knowledge sharing, and highlights the Asian Development Bank's groundbreaking work to scale up clean energy investment in the region. Registration for ACEF and its side events is free and open to any interested individuals.

You can join experts from NREL at two official ACEF events this year:

  • Distributed Resources and the Sustainable Energy Transition in Asia – ACEF 2020 Deep Dive Workshop – Register for ACEF
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) Tools for Smarter Energy Planning ACEF 2020 Official Side Event Register for the side event.

LEARN MORE: Enhanced Load Modeling and Forecasting: Free Online Course – July—September 2020

What will power demand in Southeast Asia be in 30 to 40 years? Where will demand be greatest? What will the hourly demand profile look like with the deployment of advanced energy systems (such as electric vehicles) and shifting economic sectors? Power system planners are faced with these and more challenging questions as they model and forecast long-term electricity demand for increasingly complex and transforming power systems in Southeast Asia. This course will provide planners with improved demand modeling and forecasting approaches as well as an understanding of scenario-based planning to support robust power system planning. Participants will be equipped with the knowledge and best practices to apply these methods in their planning activities.

If you are interested in participating in this online course, please fill out the interest form before June 30. More information can be found on the Enhanced Load Modeling and Forecasting Interest Form.

REGISTER: Building Blocks To Support Cybersecurity in the Power Sector – June 25, 2020, at 8 a.m.

Cyber security is a critical aspect of power sector resilience. As an activity of the Resilient Energy Platform, this webinar will present a power sector cybersecurity framework and building blocks focused on technical, policy, planning, regulatory, and other key areas across power system technologies such as distributed energy resources, bulk power, and grid modernization. The webinar will also highlight new work planned through USAID to support developing countries in designing and implementing cyber security measures. The webinar will conclude with a moderated discussion on the building blocks and input from the audience on ways the building blocks can be improved and refined. Register at GoToWebinar.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Asia EDGE Power Sector Learning Series

The Asia EDGE Power Sector Learning Series provides no-cost virtual training on power sector planning, resilience, grid integration, and power sector modernization topics. Supported by USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia, the series features leading global experts to share cutting-edge approaches and best practices to enable competitive markets for clean energy technologies across the Southeast Asia region. The first webinar in the series, A Practitioner’s Guide to Implementing Solar Rooftop Programs and Navigating Net Metering Policies, will be held on July 9, 2020. Greening the Grid will be updated with more information and links to register for individual webinars as they become available.

WATCH: Clean Energy Technical Solutions for Power Sector Resilience

Clean energy technical solutions can enhance resilience across the grid system to help provide more reliable and resilient power to end users. This webinar gathers power system resilience experts to share insights about cutting-edge technologies and approaches that can enable countries to better prepare for and address threats to the power system. The webinar also includes case studies presented from resilience projects in Barbados and Puerto Rico. Watch the recording: Clean Energy Technical Solutions for Power Sector Resilience.

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