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Springing Forward
Acting Executive Director Sheila Hollis

Dear USEA family,

Our Spring and Summer slate of activities will kick off in earnest later this month, with our 2022 Annual Membership Meeting & Public Policy Forum on Thursday, May 26. Every year, we host this event to highlight industry achievements, developments in energy policy, and to preview the future of the energy landscape. It is also an occasion to honor individuals and organizations who have helped advance invaluable energy initiatives both domestically and internationally, with the United States Energy Award and the USEA Volunteer Awards. It will be an engaging and insightful program, and I hope you can join us.

April’s Virtual Press Briefing was another strong and timely installment in the series. As we predicted, the topic of lithium-ion batteries was a major draw. It is evident that there are no quick fixes to the critical mineral shortage, considering how long it currently takes in the United States to prepare a mine for production. However, on a broader level, there is also concern and some disagreement on the long-term role of lithium-ion batteries in the energy transition. Here are recaps of the briefing from Ken Silverstein at Forbes and Llewellyn King, who moderated the briefing.

On April 20, I had the opportunity to be interviewed for a live Bloomberg TV program. I was invited by Bloomberg reporter Ali Cinar to come into their DC headquarters on New York Avenue. The Bloomberg offices are truly state-of-the-art, and the staff was very hospitable. The interview was recorded in a sleek TV studio for one of Bloomberg’s programs broadcasted internationally. Ali asked me questions about the impact of Russia’s invasion on energy markets, the energy transition, and global LNG trade. You can watch the interview here.

USEA Senior Director Will Polen, Program Director Mike Moore, and myself had an interactive call with a senior Norwegian clean energy official last week. We discussed several ways in which we can cooperate on CCUS development and other carbon reduction initiatives. Norway possesses an immense amount of renewable capacity, driven mostly by their vast quantities of wind power. Norway is aggressively seeking to achieve carbon neutrality and is pursuing multiple avenues to achieve that goal. This is a particularly fascinating commitment by Norway, considering the vast oil and gas resources it has developed over past decades.

The Promise of a Bright Electricity Transmission Future Ahead

Greg Wetstone, President & CEO, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)

The prospects for upgrading and expanding the nation’s aging electricity transmission grid have never been brighter at all levels of government: national, regional, and state. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) launched a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Electricity Transmission that will initially explore transmission planning and cost allocation, and later address interregional transmission and generator interconnection. This rulemaking process represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address some of the challenges that have stifled the pace of deployment of low-cost wind and solar energy projects. With today’s heightened awareness of the importance of increasing energy independence, it is extremely timely that FERC address curtailments of existing resources and the extensive interconnection queue delays in the current system.

As we have learned from past experience, federal, state, and local government collaboration is crucial to the success of any transmission project. FERC has established a Federal-State Joint Task Force on Transmission, comprised of the five FERC commissioners and 10 state public utility commissioners. It is commendable that acknowledgement of this vital interaction is occurring at the outset of the rulemaking process. The creation of the Joint Task Force bodes well for more efficient, cross-jurisdictional decision-making ahead, as well as support for the final rule.

There are also some positive regional signals for the power delivery infrastructure. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) is collaborating with stakeholders on a $10.4 billion set of transmission lines that could support approximately 53 gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar, hybrid and stand-alone battery storage. According to MISO staff, the transmission facilities would provide $37 billion in benefits across MISO’s northern footprint over the next 20 years, including parts of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.

The plan estimates the projects could provide 213,000 jobs from building renewable energy and energy storage facilities, plus another 120,000 jobs building the transmission infrastructure. The 53 GW of capacity would provide enough power to supply the equivalent of 12 million homes, with benefits outweighing costs in all of the region’s transmission zones. The Tranche 1 transmission plan yields shared benefits 2.6 times greater than costs, including:

· lower fuel costs from accessing renewable energy

· less congestion by building regional transmission projects vs. local generation requiring incremental reliability upgrades

· increased resilience

· reduced pollution and lower greenhouse emissions

There is also progress on the interregional front, as the Joint Targeted Interconnection Queue study (JTIQ) demonstrates the advantages of collaborative, long-term transmission planning in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and MISO regions, where abundant resources exist that can be stymied by insufficient transmission capacity. MISO and SPP each modeled significant amounts of new generation near their boundary and considered a number of alternative solutions, including those submitted by stakeholders. Their modeling spans a multi-year period resulting in a more cost-effective approach, as one larger solution often costs less than multiple band-aid solutions. The results reveal seven transmission projects in both service territories where at least 28 GW or more of new generation could be supported while bringing significant economic and reliability benefits to consumers. With the solutions identified, MISO and SPP are now determining cost allocation so that the assigned costs are ‘roughly commensurate’ with expected benefits, per FERC’s guidance. MISO and SPP are also identifying interconnection processes that could result in shorter timelines and more certainty for the next generators seeking to connect to the grid.

These examples illustrate the complexity of the current transmission planning, siting, and construction processes, as well as the extensive engagement by multiple constituencies. Broader coordination across a larger geographic footprint benefits consumers by reducing overall system costs, delivering the lowest cost energy to where it’s most needed.

This is an exciting time for the clean energy transformation, particularly the power delivery infrastructure. Together, we can demonstrate significant progress toward creating a transmission planning system equipped to meet the demands of the 21st century.

USEA 2021 Annual Report

Click on the cover below to view our new Annual Report.
USEA Network Modeling Lays Foundation for Black Sea Submarine Cable

Will Polen, Senior Director, USEA

The Georgian State Electrosystem (GSE) recently announced the launch of a feasibility study on construction of an electric cable across the floor of the Black Sea. This underwater, high voltage, direct current electric power transmission cable will connect the power network of the Republic of Georgia—and by extension the entire Southern Caucasus region—to Romania and to the larger European wholesale electricity market. Such an interconnection would increase the stability and reliability of both countries’ networks, as well as increase opportunities for transparent, wholesale electricity trade. It promises to bring the region closer to its shared goal of energy security and a transition to clean energy.
In the early stage of this project, a preliminary World Bank assessment confirmed that the idea of a submarine cable connection held economic promise, but lacked evidence of technical feasibility. The USEA Energy Technology and Governance Program (ETAG), funded by USAID, was invited to use its convening power and technical expertise to provide the requisite network modeling and analysis. We found that—with minimal upgrades—the countries’ networks are sufficient to support the submarine interconnection cable, and we offered a set of network models to be used by the relevant transmission system operators to ensure network reliability once the cable is completed.
With support from the World Bank, GSE is now proceeding confidently to the next stage of meeting its goal: a full feasibility study needed to secure project funding. And countries across Europe and Eurasia stand to benefit from the eventual success.
The USEA ETAG program has developed and curated a uniquely robust and detailed set of network models over the last 20 years. Prior to USEA involvement, countries across the Europe and Eurasia region lacked their own energy models and modeling capacity, as did the region as a whole. The models we developed and maintain with USAID support are now used as the evidence-base for every transmission network investment decision that the region’s utilities and energy ministries make.
The region’s maturing energy industry tests the impact of every proposed investment against these models. From large-scale undertakings, like the Georgia-Romania undersea cable, to the more routine decisions about transmission capacity, network and substation upgrades, and cross-border connections.
It is because of this widespread dependence on our network models, that the USAID/ETAG partnership has leveraged nearly $35 billion in network and power generation investment in the region over the past 20 years.
As the need for clean energy and energy security in the region grows ever more vital, we are prepared to inform the region’s critical decision-making for decades to come.


Related Resources:
Technical Assessment of the Submarine Electric Cable Between Romania and Georgia

Network planning is critical to the green energy transition

Women In Energy: May 2022

This month's Women In Energy honoree is Sharon Yeti, CEO of Powerlive Zimbabwe, a leading energy provider generating clean, safe, and sustainable energy solutions for women and their communities in Zimbabwe. Powerlive targets off-grid residential households, small-scale farmers, and schools in the rural and peri-urban areas of Zimbabwe through a strategic network of rural women-led social groups. 

Sharon talks about the obstacles women face when accessing finance for women-led startups in the energy sector. She attributes this challenge to the lack of policies for gender-based efforts.

"Sometimes government programs do not account sufficiently for the root causes contributing to the lack of women's participation and employment in the industrial sector and their non-representation in highly skilled positions," Yeti said. 

However, Yeti sees hope in distributable solar energy solutions that ushered in new opportunities for women to respond to various needs in the value chain. 

Read her full interview here.

Energy Utility Partnership Program (EUPP)

"Improving Utility Performance and Energy Security By Enhancing Institutional Knowledge"

Green Hydrogen Workshop for Colombia Hydrogen Roadmap (pictured above)
In September 2021, the Ministry of Energy published Colombia’s Hydrogen roadmap targeting 1GW of electrolysis capacity by 2030 and escalated usage of fuel cell vehicles. To implement the country’s green hydrogen roadmap, the Ministry of Mines and Energy recently published a framework for interested companies titled ‘Draft Hydrogen Taxonomy and Institutionality Decree’ for public comments. EUPP has been working alongside Tetra Tech and NREL to assist Colombia’s Ministry of Energy to gather comments and recommendations from American and international experts on the draft decree. EUPP recently hosted a second virtual ‘Roundtable Discussion on Taxonomy for Green Hydrogen’. The recommendations gathered will help the Ministry develop its own taxonomy for green and blue hydrogen, allowing these fuel resources to benefit from the fiscal incentives available to fuels classified as renewable energy. Such workshops expand Colombia’s capacity to tap into the geographical privilege that favors it to become a leader in developing renewables in Latin America and a hydrogen export hub. According to the energy ministry, hydrogen could attract $5 billion in investment and generate 15,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

Bhutan's Readiness Study Catalyzes Opportunities for South Asia Regional Power Market
The Royal Government of Bhutan anticipates significant surplus power generation capacity and is keen on expanding cross-border electricity trade beyond India to the entire Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) sub-region. Meanwhile, power markets are converging in the BBIN region towards a centralized market that would require a shift in the existing cross-border policy frameworks. EUPP recently commissioned a “Study on Bhutan’s Readiness for Regional Power Integration”. This project was initiated under USEA’s tenure as implementer partner of the USAID South Asia Regional Energy Hub (SAREH) and is now being completed under EUPP. This month, USEA and Deloitte conducted a feedback session with 19 Bhutanese private and public utility and government stakeholders to collect their inputs on the draft report to be incorporated in the final report. This study will support the expansion of regional power markets in South Asia in the near term will contribute to long-term economic growth and climate-resilient livelihoods.  

PSSE Study Helps Kenyan Power System Engineer Simulate Results
EUPP has been training Kenya Power engineers for over a year on PSSE load modeling software. Sam Opana, an Electric Engineer in Power Systems, was promoted in December 2021, in part, due to this training that improved his PSSE skills. Mr. Opana applied what he learned in the PSSE study to simulate the Critical Clearing Time of various transmission lines and buses in the Kenyan power system. These simulation results gave Kenya Power new operational insight into how to dispatch various renewables to maintain the stability of the system. He also conducted a study on the effects of 120 MW of solar power plants on the stability of the Kenyan system. The study will help Kenya Power add more solar power to the system, avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and diversifying their energy mix to reduce dependency on hydro that is sensitive to droughts caused by climate change.  


Upcoming Activities

May 7-18: SARI/EI Executive exchange on Advancing Energy Security through Renewable Energy Integration and Regional Power Markets to France, Belgium, and Germany 

May 9-13: EUPP/Senegal Project Management Training Series for Senelec

May 11-13: Fifth Conference and Trade Fair: Renewables and DER LATAM Barranquilla, Colombia

May 13-26: EUPP/Uganda Hydropower Executive Exchange

May 14-20: (SAREH) India study tour to the United States on distributed financial management 

May 16-20: DIgSILENT Training 4 for NETC Uzbekistan in Tashkent.

May 23-27: EUPP: Young Professional Course, Advanced Topics in Integration of Renewable Energy, Distributed Energy Resources, and Electric Mobility

Promoting Consensus on CCUS and Carbon Management Technologies

"To Educate The Public, Policy Makers, Industry, and Other Stakeholders and Build A Consensus on the Benefits of Carbon Capture Utilization Sequestration and Carbon Management Technologies"

April was a historic month for the Consensus program as it saw the return of the first in-person events organized by the program since March 2020. The Regional Carbon Management Applicant Education workshops, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, were held over three consecutive weeks in Columbus, Ohio; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Salt Lake City, Utah. These workshops supported implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and targeted potential applicants interested in developing commercial-scale storage facilities, point-source CO2 capture demonstration projects, direct air capture hubs, hydrogen production hubs with carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon utilization, and CO2 transport that will be required by these BIL provisions and support decarbonization. The series was kicked off with a virtual session which can be viewed here. April also featured Consensus’ first Environmental Justice (EJ) focused event, as it helped organize a DOE-hosted Public Community Listening Session held in New Orleans. Consensus looks forward to continuing future engagements with the EJ community!
Promoting International and Domestic Consensus on Oil and Natural Gas

"Convening Global Stakeholders to Ensure an Affordable, Sustainable, and Secure Energy Future"

The U.S. – India Low Emission Gas Task Force (LEGTF) continued supporting the energy and climate goals of the Government of India and the U.S. Government under the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP). LEGTF members are pursuing pilot projects on methane leak detection and repair in an effort to reduce methane emissions associated with natural gas infrastructure. LEGTF members are also implementing pilot projects for LNG-fueled vehicles in India, a key initiative in India’s clean energy transition that will reduce GHG emissions in the transportation sector.
U.S. - East Africa Geothermal Partnership (EAGP)

"Promoting Geothermal Development In East Africa's Great Rift Valley"

The U.S. – East Africa Geothermal Partnership continued a technical assistance project to support the development of the Oserian Two Lakes Industrial Park in Naivasha, Kenya. EAGP is partnering with POWER Engineers to develop a grid interconnection study for the microgrid park to access backup power from the Kenyan grid, funded by Power Africa and the U.S.  Agency for International Development.
5/5          Indian Energy Minerals Forum 2022: Webinar Series 3, Episode 1

5/12        Consensus Webinar: Hydrogen Market Module Component Design Report

5/26        USEA Annual Membership Meeting & Public Policy Forum
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