Amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Power for All initiative, five Indian energy executives traveled to the United States in May to research renewable energy and implementation. The delegation visited the Electronic Reliability Council of Texas, Xcel Energy, PacifiCorp, and Portland General Electric, as well as the public utility commissions of California and Oregon. According to the United States Energy Association — which arranged the trip — this specific delegation’s research focused on the organizational challenges of connecting renewables to large-scale power grids, such as renewable energy variance forecasting, grid balancing, and scheduling.
The hosting of this delegation was a continuation of USAID’s Greening the Grid initiative under the agency’s US-India flagship program: Partnership to Advance Clean Energy. Established to assist in Modi’s goal of providing power to all Indians while maintaining India’s environmental commitments in the Paris Accords, Greening the Grid emphasizes “facilitating exchanges between US and Indian regulators, grid operators, and utilities” in addition to supporting analytical modeling and six grid integration pilot programs in India. These in-person exchanges are particularly important in areas like grid management, wherein regulators must find a delicate equilibrium between using intermittent renewable power sources, like wind and solar energy, and ensuring a constant supply of electricity for citizens.
Given Modi’s ambitious plans to build 175 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity by 2022, eco-conscious American utility and government representatives recognized the gravity of this initiative. “It was a great opportunity to share best practices and consider what actions we have taken that would be beneficial to India during their transition” said Lisa Hardie, Oregon Public Utility Commission Chair. As the Power for All initiative continues to progress, US-Indian engagement can help provide answers to some of energy development’s toughest issues.
Meanwhile, US-Indian partnerships are also expanding in the commercial sector along the West Coast. Just days before the beginning of the delegation, the US-India Business Council hosted their Annual West Coast Summit in Menlo Park, CA to discuss technology exports. The rising bilateral trade between the two countries, totaling $115 billion in 2016, shows not just a commitment between governments, but between US and Indian businesses as well.
Olive Eisdorfer is a Research Intern with the East-West Center in Washington and a student at George Washington University.