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Arlington, VA – The U.S. Trade and Development Agency issued its annual report for fiscal year 2020, encompassing new initiatives, sector areas of focus, global…
Arlington, VA – Today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency announced another record-breaking return on its investment and the highest since its founding in 1992.…
Arlington, VA – The U.S. Trade and Development Agency today announced the opening of its newest overseas presence in Nairobi, Kenya, and the creation of…
Arlington, VA – The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has awarded two grants to support the expansion of natural gas infrastructure in Colombia and Mexico.…
São Luís, Brazil – The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has awarded a grant to the Brazilian telecommunications company Equatorial Telecomunicações S.A.to facilitate the development…
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The Valle de Cauca province, located along Colombia’s Pacific coast, is home to a population of nearly 4.6 million, with the country’s third-largest economy. In 2012, EMCALI, the region’s primary utility and an early adopter of smart grid technologies, collaborated with USTDA for advanced solutions to manage peak electricity and more efficiently utilize its generation, transmission and distribution resources for its 550,000 residential, 30,000 commercial and 30,000 industrial customers.
After partnering with Missouri-based Aclara to implement an advanced metering infrastructure system, EMCALI installed more than 14,000 smart meters and 800 prepaid meters by the end of 2012. EMCALI subsequently looked to USTDA for options to develop an automated demand side management (ADSM) system allowing consumers to decrease electricity consumption during peak periods, reduce the need for expensive peak power generation and maintain grid reliability.
USTDA’s responded in 2015 by funding an ADSM feasibility study and first-of-its-kind pilot project that is now serving local businesses, a university and EMCALI’s own facilities. The project further enabled EMCALI to use ADSM to manage peak demand and reduce customer energy expenses by six percent. EMCALI also expanded its investment in smart meter coverage for its customers.
USTDA’s Chief Operating Officer, Head of Agency Todd Abrajano concluded that “Our work in Valle de Cauca demonstrates the cutting-edge innovation and lasting benefits of American ADSM technology. Even better, this project can easily be replicated across Colombia and has the ability to fill a critical need in improving power delivery throughout the region.”
Over the last several years, the State of Ceará in northeast Brazil has placed a high priority on information and communication technology (ICT) to fuel economic growth and provide new opportunities to its citizens. USTDA-funded assistance helped the state develop a broadband network that is one of Brazil’s largest and fastest, providing a variety of public services including telemedicine, distance education, digital television and videoconferencing to nearly 90 percent of Ceará’s urban population. Built with American technology, this network has enhanced Ceará’s economic resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With new investment from a local consortium, in partnership with the State of Ceará, the upgraded network was able handle the sudden spike in demand that happened when the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out. Within the first 15 days of the pandemic, the State of Ceará experienced an approximate 50 percent increase in internet traffic and is still capable of handling more. Simply put, USTDA’s assistance to the State of Ceará helped create the conditions for such a resilient network.
The USTDA-funded technical assistance, completed in 2015, provided the Information Technology Company of the State of Ceará (ETICE) with recommendations for a new business and governance model to catalyze private sector investment in the state’s broadband network, strengthen the delivery of public services, promote the growth of private industry and improve digital access for its citizens.
ETICE adopted most of the technical assistance recommendations, including a public-private partnership model that led to its selection of a Brazilian consortium to help manage the network. This consortium brought new investment to the state’s broadband network and is now providing high-speed internet service to approximately four million people, or 90 percent of the state. According to the consortium, the entire State of Ceará will have access to broadband internet in 2022.
USTDA’s Acting Director Thomas Hardy concluded, “An investment in American technology is an investment in quality infrastructure. USTDA will redouble its efforts to help our overseas partners invest in the kinds of solutions that will keep their economies resilient and on a positive growth trajectory.”
The state of Minas Gerais is home to some of Brazil’s most ideal locations for solar power generation. With USTDA’s assistance, the state turned to Vrinda, a New York-based small business, to ensure that reliable power is continually delivered to more than 18 million people in this economically dynamic region.
As the number of utility-scale and rooftop installations accelerated in Minas Gerais, the state’s reliable electricity distribution network started experiencing an array of technical challenges. Cemig D, the state’s distribution company, sought USTDA’s assistance and evaluation of technologies to integrate these new installations into its network and address systemic issues of power intermittency and reliability. Cemig D selected Vrinda, an international strategy implementation firm, to execute the USTDA-funded assistance.
Vrinda Co-Founder and COO Navneet Trivedi emphasizes that without USTDA’s support, it was not possible for a small business like his to explore and expand in Latin America. “USTDA gave us our first overseas opportunity, which is very important for any business, but foundational for Vrinda. This opportunity and constant support by USTDA through introductions to utilities and Brazilian businesses opened multiple doors. Today we have two direct contracts with the largest Brazilian utilities helping them from strategy to implementation and have established ourselves as a trusted partner to many Brazilian utilities and professionals.”
Vrinda assessed Cemig’s D network infrastructure and requirements based on the projected growth in its total installed capacity of solar power, which jumped from approximately 20 megawatts (MW) in early 2017 to approximately 500MW in early 2020. By 2027, Vrinda estimated that this number is likely to climb to 1,000MW in a base case scenario and up to 2,000MW in a high case scenario.
To address the challenges associated with this growth, Vrinda recommended a series of new investments including a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) and an Advanced Distribution Analytics (ADA) software system. Implementing this new technology will ensure continued compliance with national regulatory requirements for interconnections and reliability indices.
Following the completion of USTDA’s assistance, Cemig D contracted with Vrinda to design and implement the DERMS system. In January 2020, Vrinda introduced Cemig D to several U.S. utilities in California, Colorado and New York to observe ADA and DERMS systems and develop new relationships with American suppliers of these innovative technologies. After this visit, Cemig D began developing technical specifications for the ADA software in collaboration with expert U.S. providers.
USTDA Acting Director Thomas Hardy sums up the project this way: “This innovative collaboration between USTDA and Brazil achieved each of our objectives: We created a new overseas opportunity for a U.S. small business and ultimately enhanced the country’s management of new energy sources. In every way, we believe this is a successful partnership that is built to last.”