Visit to India Highlights Impact of AGI R&D

Over the last six years, Washington State University (WSU) has been the lead US institution for a $30M joint US-India project on advanced electric distribution systems considering renewable energy and storage.  The project, U.S. India CollAborative for Smart DiStribution System wITH STorage (UI-ASSIST), was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as well as the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India and coordinated by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF).

In late September of 2023, DOE’s UI-ASSIST program manager, Merrill Smith, and UI-ASSIST U.S. Administrative Lead and AGI co-director, Noel Schulz, traveled to India to participate in a final UI-ASSIST workshop in Delhi and to visit several of the UI-ASSIST field demonstration sites that were implemented by our Indian partners as part of the collaborative efforts. AGI researchers were involved in research and development (R&D) efforts that helped provide the foundation for several of these demonstrations including urban storage implementation and rural village electrification. Smith and Schulz visited these sites and saw the direct impact of the joint efforts for UI-ASSIST as they met with utility engineers as well as local villagers.

The U.S. team consists of 16 partners including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL),  one of the leading partners in storage for electric distribution systems.  This collaboration between WSU and PNNL is an activity of the Advanced Grid Institute (AGI).  UI-ASSIST had four major emphasis areas –R&D, laboratory test beds, field demonstrations and social, educational, and policy impacts. Additional information on this project can be found in a recent compendium providing insights on the smart distribution system work.  While the project has many facets, AGI’s involvement in storage modeling, simulation, and testing for implementation in the field is highlighted here.

AGI researchers were involved in two specific areas:  1) algorithms to integrate storage in urban field sites for backup power, distribution transformer overload management, energy arbitrage and/or energy time-shift applications and 2) battery models for simulation of rural electrification of two hamlets.

PNNL researcher, Alasdair Crawford leads PNNL’s efforts related to modeling and simulation of storage as part of these two specific applications. For the urban field demonstrations, Crawford worked with India researchers from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), BSES Rajdhani Power Limited and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) to evaluate various short-term load forecasting modeling for distribution transformers to develop control strategies for implementation of batteries in several different sites. The team published a paper on this work. Smith and Schulz visited these sites and saw firsthand how the UI-ASSIST storage projects were helping with both resiliency and reliability by providing back-up power and managing distribution transformer overloads in these urban settings.

For the second project, the UI-ASSIST team was working to electrify a village in rural India for the first time.  While the village had a distribution feeder close to it, the power was not reliable and was available at most six to eight hours a day.  Additionally, the village did not have the needed infrastructure of poles, wires, outlets, and load connections.  The goal of the UI-ASSIST field demonstration was to provide clean energy solutions and reliable power to the village.   The first step was to model and simulate a rural microgrid that included PV solar, bio-mass plant and battery energy storage systems (BESS).   Crawford developed a battery model for the proposed village power grid that was integrated by WSU researchers, Rabia Khan, Sanjeev Pannala and Schulz, and IITK researchers to simulate different scenarios and determine the appropriate sizes for the PV solar installation and BESS.

Schulz, who visited the Harnoo Village in 2019 before the microgrid was implemented, discussed her impressions after visiting the village again in September 2023. Schulz said “In my discussions with the village women in 2019, they shared hope and excitement about how reliable electricity would impact the lives of their families.  During our September 2023, we saw firsthand how our UI-ASSIST R&D had been implemented in their microgrid and its impact on their health, safety, educational and commerce opportunities.  It was one of my top professional moments to see how our collaborative research was directly impacting so many lives.”

DOE Program Manager Merrill Smith (left) and AGI Co-Director Noel Schulz (right) visited Harnoo Village Biomass System provided by UI-ASSIST Project that uses cow manure and agricultural waste products to create biogas that is used in a generator daily to charge batteries and provide electricity at night.

Three posters highlight the UI-ASSIST Battery Energy Storage Systems implemented in several urban feeder projects.

DOE Program Manager Merrill Smith (2nd from left) and AGI Co-Director Noel Schulz (left) visited with Harnoo Village women’s cooperative that has developed additional agricultural products for commerce using electricity produced by UI-ASSIST supported microgrid.

DOE Program Manager Merrill Smith (L) listens to TERI engineer Mukesh Kumar (R)  as he shares the implementation of the battery energy storage system and controls on an urban distribution feeder in Delhi.
Categories: Uncategorized