US/India project, UI-ASSIST, translates research and development into real-world field demonstrations including rural village electrification, battery storage to help with resiliency, and microgrid demonstrations

Washington State University (WSU) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) were two of sixteen United States organizations that worked with fifteen organizations from India for the $30M, six-year 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).  UI-ASSIST is an example of collaborations that are part of the Advanced Grid Institute (AGI). A previous AGI post shared how a visit to India in September 2023 demonstrated the impact of the work.

The UI-ASSIST project was an ambitious international effort to translate research and development (R&D) including modeling, simulation, and system studies in the areas of advanced distribution systems and microgrids, into field demonstrations that tested these results in real-world situations, considering the similarities and differences between India and the US.  A comprehensive final report summarizing key findings was published in September 2023 and is available on-line.  The project was broken down into three areas: R&D, Lab and Field Testing, and Social and Technical Impact Analysis and Workforce Development.

The R&D areas involved parts of the distribution and microgrid systems that were then merged into system aspects.  These included:

  • Benchmark System Development of Advanced Distribution Systems and Microgrids
  • Energy Storage Planning, Control and Optimization
  • Microgrid and Active Distribution Systems including Converter Development, Primary and Secondary Control, and Protection
  • Cybersecurity — Cyber infrastructure, detection, and preventative measures.
  • Distribution System Operator (DSO) Functions for Optimal Control
    • PV and Wind Generation Forecasting
    • Load Forecasting
    • Volt-VAR Control
    • Reliability Assessment
  • DSO Regulatory Aspects including market and regulatory issues, TSO-DSO interactions, and Transactive Controls

The results from the above R&D work were then tested for validation in lab settings across five US universities, five Indian universities, national research laboratories in both countries, and several industry development laboratories.  These activities included modeling and simulation verification and validation. Details on the twelve testbeds (six each in US and India) are available here. Testbeds included AC, DC, and AC-DC hybrid microgrids, nanogrids, advanced distribution systems, and storage including controller-hardware-in-the-loop and power-hardware-in-the-loop.

The twelve field demonstrations included electrification of two villages in India, solar and storage for residential areas, solar and battery storage for an industry campus, battery storage on an urban grid for backup, overload management and energy arbitrage, university microgrid with battery,  volt-var control implementation on utility grid, and optimization of nanogrid aggregation for markets.

The third area of the UI-ASSIST project involved impact analysis, policy recommendations, and workforce development.  The social impact analysis involved surveys in India and the US to understand acceptance of renewable energy by the public.  A survey was also done before and after the rural village was electrified in India.  Details are these results are available in the final report.

The technical impact area involved researchers reviewing the research and development results and evaluating how existing technical standards and regulations need to be updated or modified to accommodate the emerging advanced distribution and microgrid systems with increased penetration of renewable energy and storage.  US researchers also assisted a large team of researchers from India who developed a comprehensive report on “Transforming the India Power Sector- Distribution System Operators (DSOs)” that included needs, frameworks and regulatory considerations.

Additionally, the project worked to develop partnerships with US and India researchers and graduate students who are tackling the challenges of clean energy solutions using renewable energy sources and storage.  In the course of six years, over 160 researchers from US and India organizations worked with over 150 graduate students on different aspects of the UI-ASSIST project.  There were over 220 exchange visits by researchers including India-India partners, India-US partners, and US-US partners.  These exchanges included three in-person workshops in India and four in the US.

Over the six years, there were many efforts to disseminate results from the UI-ASSIST projects including over 60 joint webinars, 400+ technical papers and numerous panels and presentations at technical meetings in India and the US. 

For more information on UI-ASSIST and its impact, please see the following additional links:

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