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21CPP Fellowship Program Builds Power System Expertise

Friday, December 11, 2015

21CPP Fellowship Program Builds Power System Expertise

The Clean Energy Ministerial’s Power System Challenge, launched during CEM6 this past May, recognizes the critical need to accelerate the transition to clean, reliable, resilient, and affordable power systems. To support this transition, in particular the large-scale integration of renewables, countries must develop advanced skills and capacity on new grid technologies, advanced planning and operational techniques. Short-term staff exchanges are an essential tool to quickly address this critical need and speed the adoption of best practices across countries.

Recognizing this need, the 21st Century Power Partnership (21CPP), the CEM initiative focused on power system transformation, launched a fellowship program  to support mid-career peer learning, mentorship, skills development, and collaborative research among partner institutions. 21CPP fellows—drawn from research institutions, utilities, regulatory bodies, and planning agencies—will spend an average six to eight weeks on assignment in a host organization with scientific or practical expertise in a needed field of study.

The program was inaugurated in June 2015 with two fellows from India: Kashish Bhambhani of Power Grid Corporation of India, Limited (PGCIL), and Madhukar Goodelli, from the Power System Operation Corporation, Limited (POSOCO). Over seven weeks, Mr. Bhambhani and Mr. Goodelli worked with researchers at national labs in the United States—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)—to learn about the methodologies and software tools used in large-scale integration studies, as well as ancillary requirements and market changes that can support the integration of large-scale variable generation. Funding support for the fellowships was cost-shared equally by U.S. and Indian institutions.

“Our time at NREL informs what we’ll do when we get back to India,” said Mr. Goodelli. “There are long-term benefits to this fellowship, and that’s a value to our organizations. We’re learning new market mechanisms every day and about components in power systems.”

The fellows gained valuable hands-on experience with various types of renewable grid integration research being conducted for U.S. power systems. These included western wind and solar interconnection studies, the energy imbalance market, renewable energy forecasting technologies, competitive renewable energy zones, and demand response. The fellows also made visits to Xcel Energy, First Solar, NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility and National Wind Technology Center, and the FLEXLAB at LBNL.

“Time spent at NREL and LBNL gave me unique experiences that will help us in contributing towards growth of the renewable energy and power sector in India as well as my ongoing assignments related to renewable grid integration studies and RE forecasting systems in future Renewable Energy Management Centers with PGCIL [Power Grid Corporation of India Limited] and POSOCO [Power System Operation Corporation],” said Mr. Bhambhani.

Bhambhani and Goodelli also worked closely with U.S. laboratory researchers in support of a U.S.-India collaboration known as Greening the Grid, a multi-year effort to support India’s 24x7 energy access goal through a suite of activities aimed at enabling large-scale deployment of clean energy and energy efficiency. Together, U.S. and Indian researchers will conduct a series of grid integration studies in India designed to identify planning and operational requirements of India’s goals to add significant solar and wind capacity over the next 15 years.

21CPP fellows Kashish Bhambhani and Madhukar Goodelli visit a wind farm during their fellowship in July 2015.
“The ability for researchers and practitioners to spend six to eight weeks in close collaboration allows for a depth of peer learning that is difficult to achieve in shorter periods,” said Daniel Noll, the 21CPP initiative lead for the United States. “These exchanges are mutually beneficial and enhance the institutional capacity of both the sending and host institutions.”

21CPP plans to support additional fellowships in the coming year. Opportunities for government-sponsored fellowships will be posted on the 21CPP website as they become available. Institutions interested in participating in the 21CPP fellowship program may contact the 21CPP operating agent at 21stcenturypower@nrel.gov.

The 21st Century Power Partnership is a CEM initiative dedicated to accelerating power system transformation through integrated policy, regulatory, financial, and technical solutions for the large-scale deployment of renewable energy in combination with deep energy efficiency and smart grid solutions.