Collaborations for Advanced Distribution Systems in India and US: UI-ASSIST

Written by Noel N. Schulz*, Anurag K. Srivastava*, Suresh C. Srivastava#, Santanu Mishra#, Ankush Sharma#, and Sanjeev Pannala*

How do we energize all the households in villages and hamlets in India via microgrids to provide more reliable electricity supply?  How will machine learning and other AI techniques change power system modeling and operations in the United States?  How do we create “greener” advanced distribution systems in both India and the US?

In 2009, the Government of India (GOI) and the United States (US) through the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) launched the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE). In 2010 the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC) was established within PACE to promote clean energy innovations through the cooperation of teams of scientists and engineers across the two countries. The importance of the India-US partnership for clean energy was emphasized again recently by US President Biden in a FACT SHEET from Leaders Summit On Climate1 where “Establishing a U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership” was highlighted.

In 2017, the US-India collAborative for smart diStribution System wIth STorage (UI-ASSIST)2 was announced as the third collaborative project between Department of Science & Technology, GOI through IUSSTF and US Department of Energy under the JCERDC program. UI-ASSIST is a $30M, 5-year research project to leverage expertise in universities, national laboratories, research centers, electric utilities, and technology providers in the two countries to collaboratively develop local solutions with global impacts related to advanced green distribution systems, including microgrids, and to develop a future workforce that considers international perspectives.   Figure 1 highlights the expected outcomes and impact of UIASSIST.


Expected Outcomes from UI-ASSIST Project

Fig.1. Expected Outcomes from UI-ASSIST Project


The UI-ASSIST team brings together 14 partners in India and 15 partners in the US for ambitious technology advancement goals. The project plan includes a unique pathway from research to development to lab testing to field demonstrations in the evolution of the future distribution grid that will allow increased penetration of distributed energy resources (DER) including solar, wind and storage resources and advance towards improvements in reliability, resiliency, flexibility, and sustainability of the electric delivery systems.

The Research and Developments (R&D) efforts of the project have been broken down into six key areas:

  • Distribution System Modeling & Benchmark System Development
  • Energy Storage Modeling and Optimization
  • Microgrid and Active Distribution System
  • Cyber Security and Infrastructure
  • DSO (Distribution System Operations) Functions/Energy Management
  • DSO – Market and Regulator Issues

Within these R&D areas, there are key collaborations, including US-US, India-India and India-US partnerships, that are combining capabilities and facilities within the team to advance the science as well as provide opportunities for cross-validation of advanced distribution system models, algorithms, and tools.  UI-ASSIST used exchange programs funded with support from PACE for 13 researchers to spend time visiting multiple partners during the summer of 2019 to see facilities and advance research interactions.  In the summer of 2021, using a virtual internship, students and faculty will continue these interactions.

The evolution of the cyber-physical interactions related to advanced distribution systems continues to advance as machine learning and other AI techniques are becoming critical tools for prediction and evaluation of the uncertainty in the mix of changing generation and load profiles including the impact of DER, such as solar and storage behind the meter. With enhanced digitalization and distribution automation; threat detection, mitigation and defense mechanisms considering scalability are critical and shift from cyber-security to cyber-resiliency are much needed as being addressed by the UI-ASSIST team. Solutions include cyber-power testbed with DER protocol such as IEEE 2030.5 for interdependency analysis, physics-inspired machine learning for cyber event detection, resiliency assessment metrics and cyber-power control based defense. Further to accelerate the cyber-physical co-simulation studies, synthetic feeder models are being developed by UI-ASSIST team using existing benchmark references and graph-theory driven approaches considering the standard communication network topologies.

The UI-ASSIST team has 11 testbeds across the India and US partners where lab testing of models, and hardware-in-the-loop and real-time simulations of are being used for verification and validation of R&D results. The final phase of the project includes 10 field demonstrations with partner utilities across India and the US.  The field demonstrations include energizing two hamlets in a village in India with a microgrid including solar, storage and biomass; connected microgrids on university as well as R&D center campuses with various solar and storage configurations; and multiple utility microgrid and storage projects.

In addition to technical research activities, UI-ASSIST is working to document the challenges related to policy, guidelines and standards in this area and the different needs in each country.  Other key outcomes include examining the social impact and acceptance of renewable energy and storage solutions for the distribution system.  India and US partners are also collaborating to develop educational materials for the future workforce and training venues for existing power professionals.  With the fast pace of change in technologies within the smart distribution grid space, continuing education opportunities through IEEE presentations, panels and tutorials will help share advances from the project with utility professionals facing the challenges of integrating the new technologies.




  1. FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate, APRIL 23, 2021, STATEMENTS AND RELEASES
  2. US-India Collaborative for Smart Distribution System with Storage (UI-ASSIST)


“This material is based upon work  supported by the US Department of Energy under Award Number DE- IA0000025 and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum in partnership with Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, under grant no. IUSSTF/JCERDC-Smart Grids and Energy Storage/2017. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government, Government of India or any agency thereof.”



*- Washington State University Pullman

# - Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur


This article edited by Ali Nabavi

For a downloadable copy of the July 2021 eNewsletter which includes this article, please visit the IEEE Smart Grid Resource Center.

Noel Schulz profile picture
Dr. Noel N. Schulz is the Edmund O. Schweitzer III Chair in Power Apparatus and Systems at Washington State University. She has been a Chief Scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) since February 2020, serving in joint appointment as part of the PNNL/WSU Advanced Grid Institute (AGI). In January 2020, she became Interim Co-Director of AGI. Dr. Schulz has been active for over 26 years in teaching, research and service at six U.S. universities. In research and graduate studies, she has graduated 45 MS and 13 PhD students; published over 175 papers; and brought in over $40M in external research including a U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER award. She is the US administrative lead for the US DOE project, US-India collAborative for Smart distribution System wIth STorage (UI-ASSIST). She is a Fellow of IEEE and ASEE and served as IEEE PES President in 2012 and 2013.
Anurag Srivastava profile picture
Anurag K. Srivastava is director of the Smart Grid Demonstration and Research Investigation Lab (SGDRIL), co-lead and the technical lead of the $30M UI-ASSIST center at Washington State University and has a joint appointment as a Senior Scientist with the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL). He received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2005. His research interest includes data-driven algorithms for power system operation and control including resiliency analysis. Dr. Srivastava is serving or served as an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, and Elsevier Sustainable Computing and guest or past editor for numbers of other IEEE Transactions and IET Journal. He is author of more than 300 technical publications including a book on power system security and 4 patents.
Suresh C Srivastava profile picture
Suresh Chandra Srivastava (F’ 21) received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, New Delhi, India. He is currently serving as Director IITK-LaTrobe Research Academy and Distingushed Visiting Professor at IIT Kanpur, India. His research interests include power system stability & security analysis, synchrophasor applications, power system restructuring, ac/dc microgrid and smart grid. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), IEEE, Institution of Engineers (India), Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (IETE), and Indian Academy of Mathematical Modeling and Simulation.
Santanu Mishra profile picture
Santanu K. Mishra (S’00-M’04-SM’12) received a B.Tech. degree in Electrical Engineering from the College of Engineering and Technology, Bhubaneswar, India, in 1998, an M.Tech. degree in Energy Systems Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, India, in 2000, and the Ph.D. degree from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA, in 2006. He worked as a senior application engineer with the International Rectifier Corporation in Rhode Island, USA, from 2004 to 2008. Currently, he is the MoSDE Chair Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. During Fall of 2017, he was a Visiting Professor with Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES), Virginia Tech., Blacksburg, VA, USA. His research interests include power converter design, implementation, control, and applications in rural scenario.
Ankush Sharma profile picture
Dr. Ankush Sharma (SM’19) is currently working as associate professor in the department of electrical engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, India. Prior to that, he was working as Assistant Professor at IIT Bhubaneswar, India. In addition to academic experience of around 5 years, he also has close to 16 years of software industry experience, primarily in the Power system and smart grid domains. He holds Ph.D. and M. Tech. degrees in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur and B. Tech. degree in Electrical Engineering from Harcourt Butler Technological Institute Kanpur. He has been Project Management professional (PMP®) certified in 2009 from Project Management Institute (PMI), USA and holds MBA degree in Finance. He has received various awards in his academic and professional career, including POSOCO Power System Award (PPSA) in 2015 and Gold Award for the “Smart City Pilot Project” by India Smart Grid Forum in 2019.
Sanjeev Pannala profile picture
Sanjeev Pannala is working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Energy System Innovation Center, Washington State University Pullman. His research interests include distribution system resiliency, event detection algorithms, ADMS, and microgrids. He completed B.Tech and M.Tech from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad and National Institute of Technology in Bhopal, India, in 2011 and 2013, respectively. He worked as Assistant Professor at NMIMS University Mumbai from 2013 to 2014. He worked on the India-UK HEAPD project from October 2014-January 2018 to earn his Ph.D. degree at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR), India. Later, he joined as a research associate (RA) under the UIASSIST Project at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR), India, from Feb 2018-May2019. He received the best paper award at IEEE National Conference ICAER in October 2013. He received the Doctoral POSOCO Power System Award in 2020 for contributions during Ph.D.

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