Nexant’s USAID Energy Program in India: Making an Impact on the Ground

Jun 17, 2018

 

The New Delhi railway station in the capital of India is one of the country’s busiest railway stations. With nearly 400 trains and 500,000 passengers on a daily basis, the railway station is always bustling with action across its 16 platforms. Needless to say, it is also an energy guzzler! Solution—solar panels installed on the roof. The railway station is now generating its own clean energy, saving on its electricity bills, and also ensuring a low-carbon footprint.

The exciting part is that the 2 MW solar rooftop plant on the railway station was set up with the technical assistance of Nexant as a part of the six-year Partnership to Advance Clean Energy—Deployment Technical Assistance (PACE-D TA) Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). I had the privilege of visiting this railway station a couple of months ago and interact with the railway officials to learn how the Nexant team helped Indian Railways to go solar, and design and implement their solar rooftop projects efficiently.

It was indeed a proud moment for me! As the Home Office Director of the PACE-D TA Program, I read technical reports prepared by the program team, attended outreach events, reviewed the progress of PACE-D with USAID, etc. But I truly did not realize the outcome of the bilateral US-India program and the legacy that it has created until I personally saw the impact on the ground.

Let me take you through the key things we did in India as USAID’s contractor for the PACE-D TA Program. On the energy efficiency side, we assisted India’s Ministry of Power to update its national building code – Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC). The updated code, launched in June last year, will ensure huge GHG savings for India’s dynamic building industry and steer it towards net-zero energy status. Nexant’s PACE-D Team also supported the Government of India to establish a stronger and smarter electric grid. We did this by building the capacity of utilities and facilitating knowledge exchange that can help them effectively design, implement, and monitor their Smart Grid pilot projects.

We have all read about the Indian Government’s ambitious solar energy target—100 GW by 2022 of which 40 GW has to come from solar rooftop. To facilitate this, Nexant’s Team worked with the central and state governments to create a strong ecosystem for solar rooftop. From easy to use application forms for project developers, to applicable interconnection frameworks/codes for utilities, to standardized training programs for utility engineers—the core aim was to ensure “ease of doing” solar business! We worked closely with ten focal states that had a total target of 23.5 GW (of the 40 GW national target).

We also built the capacity of seven microfinance institutions to start clean energy lending. Our efforts facilitated the sale of 400,000 clean energy products, making an impact on the lives of nearly 1.8 million people. Thanks to the microfinance loans, children in rural India can now study after sunset, and men and women can continue their economic activities until late into the night, thereby improving the quality of their lives.

While the PACE-D TA Program ended last month, its legacy will continue through the enabling ecosystem it has established for the uptake of clean energy in India.

Having worked over the past 30 years to help catalyze Clean Energy development in India, I am most proud of the achievements of PACE-D in achieving this objective. I am equally proud of Nexant’s Government Services Group that is working with governments across the globe to help them plan and develop energy markets, and upgrade energy infrastructure.

 

UPDATE: August 2018

This program and Nexant's role was recently featured in an article by ShareAmerica, a US State Department Platform that shares stories about innovation and entrepreneurship.