Accelerating Grid Integration

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A cityscape at night with high power energy transmission towers in the foreground. A network of lines and dots of light are superimposed over the image to evoke the concept of the smart energy grid.
As prices for clean energy and storage technologies continue to fall and nations explore ways to cut emissions, integrating higher shares of variable renewable energy becomes more urgent and complex.
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  • White Paper

    Renewable Energy Implementation Action Plan: Bangladesh

    This white paper analyzes Bangladesh’s future power generation capacity plans, examines targets in policies that promote utility-scale renewable energy, and proposes an alternative development path that leads to energy security. Read the white paper

As prices for clean energy and storage technologies continue to fall and nations explore ways to cut emissions, integrating higher shares of variable renewable energy becomes more urgent and complex.

Transforming a power grid is expensive and takes time. However, investing in necessary changes prepares the grid for evolving needs while raising investor confidence in and bankability of renewable energy projects and large-scale transmission expansions with long lead times. Grid modernization reduces medium- to long-term curtailment, stagnation of large-scale renewable energy deployment, reduces long-term costs, and enables new business models, such as electric vehicles (EVs), aggregation, demand-side management, and distributed energy resources. It also promotes regional market coordination and power system integration which can unlock billions of dollars in electricity revenue through cross-border trade.

USAID Leadership

USAID’s Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SURE) program works with partner countries to transform power systems to integrate higher shares of variable renewable energy (VRE) and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Using a comprehensive approach to grid integration, system operations, and planning, SURE helps power utilities avoid grid management issues that adversely impact reliability and the cost of energy. Throughout the process, we make sure interventions are country-led and country-owned. We work with local partners to ensure they have the knowledge and capacity to perform modeling, analysis, and implementation—critical skills needed to drive transformation of the energy sector. By greening the grid, countries have an improved pathway to a clean energy future with power utilities cost-effectively integrating utility-scale and distributed energy resources. Consumers will enjoy lower electricity prices, uninterrupted service, and can participate as prosumers.

Roadmap for Transformation

Effective and cost-efficient integration of VRE is a multifaceted, multidisciplinary, and long-term effort. A roadmap based on an overarching framework is essential to developing a comprehensive and collaborative approach. SURE’s technical experts work with government partners to form a team of stakeholders that will lay out a master plan of activities to green the grid. This process helps build support, consensus, and commitment to the clean energy transition.

Reducing Costs

SURE works with power utilities to identify least-cost VRE grid integration solutions based on detailed modeling and analysis of the country’s power grid. SURE’s experienced team uses established methodologies to analyze static and dynamic stability, production cost, and reserves requirements. Recommendations can range from system operation changes to physical changes to the grid, such as building new transmission lines or energy storage systems.

Minimizing Curtailment

If a government does not adequately plan for VRE integration, significant VRE curtailment can result, which negatively impacts the bankability and perception of future renewable energy projects. SURE’s team of experts have assisted governments with longer-term resource plans and shorter-term dispatching to address the issue of curtailment. SURE’s experts use state-of-the-art software tools to conduct simulations of unit commitment and economic dispatch to determine shortfalls in resource adequacy and to plan mitigation measures. Improvements to shorter-term dispatching that can significantly reduce curtailment include VRE generation forecasting and its integration with dispatching, faster (sub-hourly) dispatching, and market-based economic dispatch.

Increasing Reliability

As the penetration of VRE increases, its impact on power grid reliability becomes more complex. SURE provides technical specifications of VRE plants, interconnection requirements for VRE plants in the grid code, and mitigation measures to ensure that static and dynamic stability of the grid are not compromised. SURE’s recommendations are based on a thorough analysis of VRE’s impact on grid inertia, primary and secondary frequency response, load following capacity requirement and other reserve capacity requirements.

Increasing Flexibility

When VRE comprises 15 to 25 percent of annual electricity generation, system operators need to balance the supply and demand within minutes to a few hours using flexible generation and flexible system operations. SURE helps utilities increase power system flexibility by helping upgrade system operation procedures such as forecasting and digitalization of system operations to provide situational awareness and active real-time control of assets in the grid. SURE assists utilities to assess the amount of additional flexibility required with respect to load following capacity, regulating reserves, and contingency reserves in order to meet the VRE targets. Our experts can help unlock flexibility in market operations through faster dispatching and ancillary services. We can also identify balancing area cooperation opportunities that can enable reserve sharing, coordinated scheduling, and consolidated operations.

Managing Variability and Uncertainty

SURE supports pilot activities with other actors, leveraging one-to-one investment in areas such as VRE generation forecasting, grid digitization, automatic generation control, demand response, and energy storage flexibility.

In Indonesia, SURE helped address the variability and uncertainty of wind and solar generation. SURE supported Indonesia’s state-owned electricity company to improve the accuracy of wind and solar generation forecasting and incorporate it into dispatch decisions. SURE conducted a year-long pilot with three international renewable energy generation forecasting services for all utility-scale wind and solar plants in the Sulawesi grid. This allowed the system operator to evaluate the three service providers and choose the one with the highest accuracy. We designed and implemented processes to integrate VRE generation forecasting into the day-ahead dispatching and intraday re-dispatching. As a next step, this process will be automated with the use of an energy management system.

Upgrading the Regulatory Framework

Regulators should make decisions in the early stages to prepare institutions for the clean energy transition and ready the grid for medium- to long-term VRE deployment. SURE works with regulators on legal frameworks, evaluates market design, and assesses future system needs to help policymakers identify areas with market or regulatory reform opportunities. We help develop policies that increase the flexibility of power systems based on analysis of the existing generators and energy demand. Our experts help revise regulations, codes, and interconnection standards.


  • Webinar

    Variable Renewable Energy Generation Forecasting and Integration with Dispatching

    This webinar explores how Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan navigated the complexities of variable renewable energy generation forecasting and its integration with dispatching and market operations. View the webinar

  • White Paper

    Renewable Energy Implementation Action Plan: Bangladesh

    This white paper analyzes Bangladesh’s future power generation capacity plans, examines targets in policies that promote utility-scale renewable energy, and proposes an alternative development path that leads to energy security. Read the white paper

  • Renewable Energy Auctions Toolkit

    Renewable Energy Integration in Systems and Markets

    As auction programs mature and the shares of renewable energy increase, countries must integrate the energy procured into their power systems effectively and improve their markets. Learn more

  • White Paper

    Variable Renewable Energy Forecasting

    Grid operators and regulators can use variable renewable energy (VRE) generation forecasting as a cost-effective method for addressing barriers to the grid integration of VRE. Read the white paper

  • White Paper

    Impact on System Operations

    Policymakers can improve a national power system’s operations and dramatically cut costs by increasing the power system’s flexibility to integrate large amounts of variable renewable energy. Read the white paper

  • White Paper

    Challenges in the Development of VRE in Bangladesh

    Energy stakeholders outline barriers to scaling up variable renewable energy (VRE) in Bangladesh and present solutions to spur growth in grid-connected renewables. Read the white paper

  • Website

    Greening the Grid

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and USAID provide expertly curated information and guidance to support countries in power system transformation and grid modernization. Visit the website (link is external)

Mother holding her son in nature. Wind turbines in the background.
Through the Scaling Up Renewable Energy program, USAID helps partner countries power economies with renewable energy, meet international climate commitments, and open markets to private investment and competition.
© Viktor Pravdica / Adobe Stock

2017–ONGOING, GLOBAL – USAID’s Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SURE) program helps partner countries meet bold climate commitments by accelerating their transition to more affordable, reliable, and accessible energy that spurs growth, powers health systems, and reduces emissions.

Through SURE, USAID provides a variety of services to help policymakers, utilities, and regulators plan, procure, and integrate renewable energy, modernize energy sectors, and create policies that enable sustainable energy markets to flourish. As more countries aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and reduce hazardous waste, SURE’s Innovation Fund supports clean energy technology, energy efficiency innovation, and a circular economy for renewable energy equipment.

Last updated: June 14, 2022

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