The USAID and NREL Quarterly Newsletter

January 2023 Edition

In this edition, learn about free, technical teaching materials for global use, explore distributed energy resource integration in Colombia, read about support for Southeast Asia's electric vehicle transition, and more.

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Creating Impact in the New Year

Greetings! We hope your 2023 is off to a great start. The USAID-NREL Partnership team is excited to be working with several USAID Missions this year, and we are continuing to develop new ways to support the global clean energy transition. The freshly updated USAID-NREL Partnership fact sheet aims to familiarize our colleagues and host-country counterparts with a range of technical services available to augment your energy sector programming. We encourage you to review these offerings to see if there are any opportunities you would like to explore through the Partnership. As the USAID-NREL Partnership's agreement officer representatives, Sarah and I are pleased to speak with you about any of the modalities of support presented or share additional information about any of the activities described.

We are currently planning our next round of USAID Mission buy-ins to the Partnership, scheduled to begin implementation in March 2023. Please let us know if your Mission is interested in discussing a potential engagement with the Partnership–either to join this upcoming buy-in cohort or to prepare for the subsequent round to be issued in Summer 2023.

Thanks so much, and we hope you enjoy this quarter's newsletter.

Jeremy Foster and Sarah Lawson
Agreement Officer Representatives for the USAID-NREL Partnership
USAID Energy Division


Provision of demand-driven technical assistance through USAID Mission engagements,
global knowledge platforms, and project implementation

An infographic with information on USAID-NREL's strategic pillars.

What's New

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Women in Power System Transformation Releases Free, Technical Teaching Materials for Instructors, Universities, and Practitioners

Person smiling in front of model wind turbine while another person looks at it.

Photo from iStock

Women in Power System Transformation, a joint initiative from the USAID-NREL Partnership and the Global Power System Transformation Consortium, published an educational course package with technical teaching materials to support university training and inclusive workforce development. The technical materials are complemented with introductory materials on gender equality and women's empowerment as well as free-to-use media that highlight women experts and their journeys to leadership in power system operations.

This course package, which aims to expand leadership and training opportunities for women in power system operations, can be used for graduate-level student teaching, professional training, or self-learning. The package includes pre-recorded lectures and practical student assignments that are available at no cost. With leadership from Imperial College London and leading women experts from around the world, the teaching materials address four cutting-edge power system technical topics:

  1. Declining System Inertia and Dynamic Reserve Requirements, Julia Matevosyan, Energy Systems Integration Group
  2. Power System Stability With 100% Inverter-Based Resources (IBR), Claudia Rahmann, University of Chile
  3. Impacts of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on Power Systems, Edvina Uzunovic, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  4. Network Planning and Pricing To Support Net-Zero Transition, Furong Li, University of Bath.

The Global Power System Transformation also released an additional course covering Modular Multilevel Converters High-Voltage Direct Current.

Learn more about the course package and how your university or organization can use them to train the next generation of power sector professionals:

Access the free teaching materials.

Watch the Women in Power System Transformation launch webinar.

Watch the recent Power Sector Learning Series webinar: Training the Workforce of the Future–Gender Equity Resources and Free Technical Teaching Materials for Power System Transformation.

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Quantifying Impacts of Renewable Electricity Deployment on Air Quality and Human Health in Southeast Asia

Power plant smoke stack emitting emissions into outside air.

Photo from iStock

Southeast Asia experiences some of the worst air quality in the world, with a substantial amount of pollution coming from fossil-fueled power generation. Exposure to fine particulate matter, including contributions from fossil-fueled electricity generation, is one of the leading environmental risk factors for mortality in Southeast Asia, causing hundreds of deaths each year.

In collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Centre for Energy and the University of Minnesota, and with support from USAID, NREL researchers studied four power sector renewables expansion and integration scenarios based on the ASEAN Interconnection Masterplan Study (AIMS) III for future Southeast Asia power generation. The study quantifies potential nongreenhouse gas air pollutant emissions based on these scenarios and then calculates their potential impact on air quality and health for the region. It proceeds to identify which scenario could yield the greatest health benefits to citizens in Southeast Asia. The study also offers governments and organizations in Southeast Asia the information necessary to make more informed policy decisions related to energy planning and renewable energy deployment that account for better air quality and human health outcomes.

Explore these findings:

Read the Air Quality in Southeast Asia fact sheet.

Read the full Air Quality in Southeast Asia report.

Watch the Air Quality in Southeast Asia launch webinar.

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Roadmaps and Rebuilding: Planning for Providencia Island's Energy System and Integrating Distributed Energy Resources in Colombia

Aerial view of skyscrapers in Colombian city with mountains in the background.

Photo from iStock

The USAID-NREL Partnership has published guidance for Colombia's Commission of Energy and Gas Regulation that outlines recommendations for developing a roadmap to update Colombia's distribution code for the integration of distributed energy resources (DER) with considerations for the design and development of new markets. The guidance document is titled Considerations for Developing a Regulatory Roadmap for DER Integration in Colombia.

Beyond support for DER integration, the USAID-NREL Partnership is also working with Colombia's Providencia Island following the destruction of Hurricane Iota. Colombia's Ministry of Mines and Energy started a working group with USAID, ECOPETROL, the United States Energy Association, NREL, the Scaling Up Renewable Energy program, and Colombia Inteligente to support Providencia's plan to rebuild a more sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure. The working group conducted technical analyses and workshops, which led to power system capacity expansion analysis detailing costs and benefits of integrating renewable energy and energy storage onto the island as well as four white papers to guide the island's sustainable energy transition.

Providencia Island High-Level Power System Capacity Expansion Analyses

Providencia Island white papers:

Stakeholder Engagement and Coordination in Interconnection Rulemaking

Hawaii, USA: A Grid Planning Case Study for Providencia Island, Colombia

Overview of Technical Requirements for Interconnection

Potential for Increasing the Physical Resilience of Distributed Energy Resources

Finally, the USAID-NREL Partnership, in collaboration with the Scaling Up Renewable Energy program, United States Energy Association, and SENA, Colombia's training service is continuing implementation support for an energy training program with indigenous Wayuu communities in the La Guajira region to better engage local, rural, and indigenous communities in Colombia's energy transition.

Watch the training program video: Supporting Colombia's Inclusive and Just Energy Transition.

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Comprehensive Training on Energy Fundamentals for Bangladesh's Energy Sector Workforce

Group of people sit and watch presentation on Energy Fundamentals for Bangladesh Energy Sector Workforce.

A classroom of students at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology during the week-long Energy Fundamentals Course. Photo courtesy of Prateek Joshi, NREL.

With the rapidly growing energy market, Bangladesh needs more qualified professionals with applicable knowledge in the fields of energy. To address this need, USAID's Bangladesh Advancing Development and Growth Through Energy program and NREL worked with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology to design a weeklong Energy Fundamentals Course, which launched at the end of October 2022. The course provided energy professionals and recent graduates fundamental knowledge and perspectives on the energy sector, including many emerging renewable energy topics. By training early- and mid-career professionals in these emerging fields, USAID is ensuring that local workforces will play a significant role in the successful implementation of renewable energy projects. NREL's Carishma Gokhale-Welch and Prateek Joshi gave four lectures for the inaugural course. Their topics covered energy security and resilience, wind energy, energy storage, and EVs.

Access the course slide decks:

Fundamentals of Electric Vehicles

Fundamentals of Energy Security and Resilience

Fundamentals of Energy Storage

Fundamentals of Wind Energy.

Read more about USAID and NREL's work in Bangladesh.

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Jobs and Economic Impacts Modeling for Southeast Asia's Electric Vehicle Transition

Top view of trees surrounding water source in the shape of a tractor trailer.

Photo from iStock

Southeast Asia is home to some of the fastest-growing economies, and many countries are initiating significant measures toward reducing the carbon footprint of their transportation sectors. A substantial increase in EV deployment is predicted in the near- and medium-term in the region. Despite existing EV scale-up goals and strategies, there are still many challenges and barriers. And although conditions in each nation are different, a few examples of critical barriers are the lack of infrastructure, charging standards, and policies related to the price of charging.

Through the Advanced Energy Partnership for Asia, NREL and Thailand's Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) worked together to build a custom tool based on the International Jobs and Economic Development Impact (I-JEDI) model. DEDE's key question is: In the event of a complete EV transition, how can DEDE estimate impacts on the local biofuels industry and thus support it with designing EV deployment policies with consideration for affected workers and economic activities?

The objective of NREL's engagement with DEDE is to assist the organization in policy decisions about EV scale-up and related challenges by designing a tool that delivers analysis-driven modeling solutions that align with the nation's goals and priorities. By working closely with DEDE throughout this process, this project built technical knowledge and capacity within DEDE that could expand the use of the model into other industries or design new models. USAID and NREL plan to continue advisory support to assist DEDE in addressing challenges that may come up when using the tool.

Learn more about the I-JEDI tool and how it can be used to analyze the economic impacts of renewable energy development around the world.

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Decarbonization and Net-Zero Transitions Across Mexico

Ariel view of city in Mexico.

Photo from iStock

In the Mexican state of Guanajuato, the USAID-NREL Partnership is working to develop a roadmap for sustainable decarbonization of the transport sector. Using a participatory approach, stakeholders are able to identify what carbon reduction goals are ambitious and realistic as well as what policy and program options can best help the state meet these goals. NREL conducted three focus group sessions with local representatives of industry, government, civil society, and academia to discuss transport-related decarbonization goals, barriers, opportunities, and actions. By engaging with local stakeholders early in the process, USAID and NREL can ensure that solutions are grounded in local realities and priorities. Input from these groups is critical to understanding the state's transportation system and its potential for greenhouse gas reductions and sustainability.

In October 2022, researchers from the DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) participated in USAID Mexico's workshop to kick off the Partnership for Net Zero Cities Program. This program aims to reduce at least 17.34M CO2e emissions and mobilize $550 million in investment by improving energy efficiency measures in buildings and transportation sectors. The program will enhance energy efficiency and improve local governance and finance across five cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Merida, and Hermosillo. The workshop gathered inputs for the Partnership for Net Zero Cities Program Year 1 work plan and identified the needs of state and municipal actors. LBNL researchers presented an overview of LBNL's current activities supported by USAID to advance energy efficiency in buildings and NREL provided a summary of ongoing work in the transportation sector. Ongoing support from the DOE laboratories will assist USAID/Mexico to utilize the high capacity of the local consultants to implement climate programs in these sectors.

Learn about the Partnership for Net Zero Cities.

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Addressing the Energy Crisis in South Africa

Two burning votive candles in front of a South Africa flag.

Photo from iStock

In response to the emergency power cuts implemented by the South African government over the past few years due to insufficient generating capacity, USAID and LBNL are supporting the South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in designing a demand-side management (DSM) program to reduce load shedding. The LBNL team is developing a research study to advance coordination between energy efficiency strategies and DSM programs. It was also invited to an internal workshop convened by the South African government last year to provide inputs on DMRE's approach to integrate energy efficiency as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa's emergency electricity response plan and is working with the University of Cape Town's Energy Research Group to conduct a DSM modeling study to identify peak demand opportunities, funded by the South African National Energy Development Institute.

The technical assistance provided by LBNL with support of local partners includes helping Eskom (the government-owned utility) and DMRE to shape a DSM program with an initial goal of saving 600 megawatts in the short term. Improved DSM on the South African power system can avoid costs associated with building new generators and transmission lines, save customers money, lower pollution from electric generators, and reduce load shedding. LBNL will continue assisting South Africa through participation in a Presidential Committee set up to address the energy crisis and will identify areas requiring additional support.

Learn more about USAID and LBNL's work in South Africa.

Team Spotlight

Daniella Rough

Daniella Rough is a project manager in NREL's Integrated Decision Support group in the Accelerated Deployment and Decision Support Center. She leads partnerships and initiatives aimed at providing technical, financial, and regulatory assistance to developing countries looking to increase the participation of renewable energy and develop climate change mitigation roadmaps. She currently leads the USAID-NREL Partnership's engagements in Colombia.

Meet Daniella Rough!

What inspired you to work on international projects?

I have always been excited about international work ever since starting my first post-grad job over 15 years ago as an international consultant, where I was immediately tasked with conducting environmental and social impact assessments and hydro-meteorological studies throughout some of the most remote project sites in Sub-Saharan Africa, the middle of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, frozen lakes in Siberia, the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, the Atacama Desert in Chile, and small islands in the Caribbean (hard life, I know!). Working on projects in developing countries helped me to see and experience the vast gap in access to things that we so often take for granted in the developed world, such as reliable energy, clean water, education, and workforce opportunities for underserved communities, minorities, and women. Working to help bridge those gaps, while also supporting global sustainable development, is the most rewarding thing that I could ever imagine doing with my life, and I'll keep doing it as long as I possibly can.

Tell us about your role in the USAID portfolio and what recent projects you are most excited about.

I am the project lead for the USAID-NREL Partnership Project in Colombia, in addition to supporting other projects in the Latin American and Caribbean region, including Net Zero World and long-term strategy development in Argentina, the Global Climate Action Partnership for the Latin American and Caribbean region, and the Renewable Energy in the Latin American and Caribbean region initiative. I love that we can help countries grapple with their biggest challenges as they move forward with their energy transitions, such as guiding them through their Distributed Energy Resource roadmap development, or supporting islands in rebuilding their energy infrastructure after natural disasters, similar to Providencia Island following Hurricane Iota. I enjoy supporting national calls for innovative hydrogen projects, including the call for clean hydrogen construction in Colombia, the call for workforce empowerment in Colombia's energy sector with a gender and equity focus, and the call for capacity building with indigenous Colombian communities to empower them in national energy transitions. Much of our work with USAID Colombia is focused on energy justice and empowerment of local communities to develop and manage renewable energy systems (both connected and off-grid), helping to improve their quality of service while decreasing costs and increasing their energy security. It's an incredible opportunity to be able to help the government of Colombia develop an innovative and inclusive national implementation plan for energy communities and to work alongside some of the world's greatest minds to help create a more sustainable future.

Why is it important to work with developing nations on deploying advanced and sustainable energy systems?

Having lived in Peru for 9 years and after working directly with the United Nations Development Program and the Ministry of Energy and Mines on their energy and transport sector decarbonization strategy, I saw the tremendous importance and value of international cooperation to developing countries in accessing state-of-the art industry knowledge, technology, tools, and technical assistance, to help them leapfrog to more sustainable development pathways. I also saw the immense impact of NREL's technical assistance with the development of RE Data Explorer for Peru, techno-economic studies on solar deployment in the Amazon, and training and capacity building with key stakeholders on NREL tools. I'm excited to see NREL's work and portfolio in developing countries growing, with increasing mobilization of government-to-government funding to support global decarbonization targets with knowledge transfer, peer learning, mentorship programs, regulatory support, and technical assistance.

If you could give any advice to young or early-career researchers or persons in the energy systems field, what would it be?

I would say don't compare yourself to others, remember that everyone's path is unique, and to follow your passion. Even if it changes and meanders in seemingly unconventional directions, learn to roll with the punches. Adaptability is key, and don't be too hard on yourself–no one is perfect. I migrated from being an environmental geochemist focused on mine remediation, to a water quality researcher studying surface water contamination in the San Francisco Bay, to a forest hydrologist remediating post-fire erosion in the Colorado Front Range, to an environmental specialist setting up hydrometeorological monitoring networks around the world, to a renewable energy mining consultant in Peru and Chile, to a decarbonization and net-zero emission specialist in the United States with a portfolio in Latin America and the Caribbean. The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves.

Finally, tell us a little bit about yourself. How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I grew up spending all my free time dancing, pretty much any type you could think of (jazz, tap, ballet, belly dancing, folklorico, African, hip hop, modern). The big crossroad choice was to major in geology at university or study dancing/choreography at Juilliard. Then (choosing the geology route), I started enjoying extreme sports like skydiving, rock-climbing, deep-sea scuba diving, whitewater kayaking, snowboarding, windsurfing, you name it. These days, especially with two kids (3 and 5), I've realized that there's no reason to jump out of a perfectly good plane when I could use resources instead to travel to a nice family holiday in Ireland where my husband grew up or California to visit my parents. I love seeing new adventures through my kids' eyes now and passing on a bit of my adventurous spirit to the next generation.

Resource Round-Up

Find all the publications, events, and resources outlined in this newsletter at a glance.

Tools, Data, and Expert Assistance

Southeast Asia Wind Data Now Available on RE Data Explorer

The USAID-NREL Partnership is excited to add wind data for Southeast Asia to the RE Data Explorer. The Southeast Asia wind resource data set features publicly accessible 3-kilometer spatial resolution time-series wind data to promote data-driven decision making and enhance knowledge around decarbonization planning. Limited data is already available on RE Data Explorer, and the full 15-year data set will be available in March 2023. Explore the Southeast Asia wind resource data set on RE Data Explorer.

Electric Vehicle Fleet Decision Support Goes Online

As fleet managers and decision makers around the world begin to consider the benefits of electrifying their fleet, they will need to overcome financial, infrastructure, planning, range, and technology challenges. To address this need, the USAID-NREL Partnership created an EV Fleets online resource as part of the EV Toolkit on Greening the Grid, which offers information and guidance materials to support developing countries in addressing barriers to safe, effective, economical, and accelerated deployment of EVs. Transitioning traditional vehicle fleets to electricity can reduce fuel and maintenance costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollutants, improve performance, promote energy security, increase resilience to natural disasters, and promote energy and mobility justice. Visit the EV Fleet online resource.

USAID Toolkit Ask An Expert Services

Some of the most useful, crosscutting features of the USAID toolkit are the Ask an Expert services. Through RE Data Explorer, I-JEDI, Resilient Energy Platform, and Greening the Grid, stakeholders can connect with experts for high-level guidance and consultation at no cost. The USAID-NREL Partnership's expert network is eager to share best practices with government agencies, utilities, regulators, and more looking for assistance. Check out the services for RE Data Explorer Ask an Expert, I-JEDI Ask an Expert, Resilient Energy Platform Ask an Expert, and Greening the Grid Ask an Expert.

Free Trainings

Modeling Air Quality and Health Benefits for Southeast Asia's Electricity Sector Under AIMS III Scenarios

Women in Power System Transformation and the Global Power System Transformation Consortium Present Free Teaching Materials for Global Public Use

Training the Workforce of the Future–Gender Equity Resources and Free Technical Teaching Materials for Power System Transformation

Must Reads

Fact Sheet: Quantifying Impacts of Renewable Electricity Deployment on Air Quality and Human Health in Southeast Asia Based on AIMS III Scenarios

Report: Quantifying Impacts of Renewable Electricity Deployment on Air Quality and Human Health in Southeast Asia Based on AIMS III Scenarios

Energy Fundamentals course slide decks:

Fundamentals of Electric Vehicles

Fundamentals of Energy Security and Resilience

Fundamentals of Energy Storage

Fundamentals of Wind Energy

USAID-NREL Partnership fact sheet

Providencia Island White Papers:

Stakeholder Engagement and Coordination in Interconnection Rulemaking

Hawaii, USA: A Grid Planning Case Study for Providencia Island, Colombia

Overview of Technical Requirements for Interconnection

Potential for Increasing the Physical Resilience of Distributed Energy Resources

Teaching Materials

Access free, university-level Women in Power System Transformation teaching materials.

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