U.S. / India Clean Energy Leadership Group: Volume 2

Engaging States on Decarbonization


Welcome to the second official newsletter of the U.S./India Clean Energy Leadership Group (CELG)—a partnership between U.S. and Indian states that are leading the way to decarbonized electric power systems.

This newsletter brings you updates on CELG activities and updates on participating states. It is a resource for member states to learn more about common challenges and opportunities faced by both U.S. and Indian states, and to provide insight from outside experts on U.S. and Indian states’ collaboration.

We hope you enjoy this second edition, and we welcome your suggestions for featured experts, states, or issues you would like us to highlight in the next newsletter. Please send any thoughts or feedback to njain@csis.org

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India’s Progress on Energy Storage

CSIS hosted Saurabh Kumar, Executive Vice Chairperson, Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. Group and Rahul Walawalkar, President, India Energy Storage Alliance on our popular Energy 360 podcast to discuss the role that energy storage can play in helping India meet its clean energy goals. Together, they examined the policy, regulatory, and economic opportunities and challenges facing both energy storage and Indian electricity sector. bit.ly/3g4FDip

Role of Subnational Diplomacy in India’s Climate Change Goals

CSIS hosted a virtual event on January 25, 2020, to unpack Indian states’ role in fulfilling India’s commitment to a rapid, sustainable, and low-carbon development. The event brought together key U.S. and Indian stakeholders to deliberate on what hinders the states' progress and can India's states benefit from engaging with an expected “climate-first” foreign policy from the Biden administration? youtu.be/Umh7goZUBxE


Power system flexibility & rooftop solar in Indian and US States
by Szilvia Doczi, Nicole Thomas, Peter Zeniewski

The rise of solar and wind in India, as explored in the IEA’s recent India Energy Outlook , will have huge implications across India’s power sector.Smart system integration of rooftop solar can provide system benefits in both India and the United States. Rooftop solar deployment differs between the two countries in terms of scale, sector, and key drivers, but state-specific details provide valuable lessons for both sides. India reached over 6.5 GW of rooftop solar capacity in 2021. In 2020 alone, the United States added 4.5 GW rooftop solar capacity , reaching a total of 28 GW by 2021. In India, 70 percent of the installations come from industrial and commercial users, while in the United States, 62 percent is from residential users. In India high industrial electricity tariffs are the key drivers of this growth alongside the net metering policies, while in the United States, net metering policies are key drivers alongside relatively high electricity prices in California, or property tax exemptions in Texas.

Top 10 Indian and US States with highest rooftop solar capacities, January 2021

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Source: Renewables Integration in India, MNRE and EIA
IEA. All rights reserved.

As growth in rooftop solar is reshaping demand curves, demand response becomes one of the key power system flexibility tools. As many more Indian and U.S. states are looking to boost their rooftop solar installations, they can learn from Gujarat’s and California’s experience. Net metering was the key policy underlying the steep increase in consumer willingness to install rooftop solar in both California and Gujarat.

As India’s Ministry of Power reviews its net metering and tariff policies there are several key lessons for Indian states from California’s experience.

  • Electricity pricing is an important tool to activate demand side flexibility including demand response.

  • Indian states can benefit from switching all rooftop solar consumers to time-of-use (TOU) rates, with careful consideration and assessment of their peak hours and local peak requirements.

  • Net metering rules and electricity rates together determine the value allocation across the rooftop solar owners, non-rooftop consumers, and utilities .

  • California shows that mandating TOU rates for all rooftop solar players can also help mitigate some of the utility’s revenue loss.

  • Regular reassessment of TOU timeslots will be required as rooftop solar additions and demand response reshape the state’s demand curves.

As policy makers work to improve regulatory and market design options for system integration of rooftop solar and improving power system flexibility, the sharing of sub-national experiences between India and the United States will be key to understanding the impact of different policies such as net metering and rate/tariffs designs. The upcoming India Renewables Integration 2021 (expected in June) report highlights more details and more power system flexibility resources for both countries.


Former Energy Secretary, Government of Karnataka

Question (Q): How is your state a leader in renewables and clean energy transition in India?

Answer (A): Karnataka is at the forefront of the renewable energy adoption in India. Renewables represent 63 percent of the total installed capacity within the state. The state houses the Pavagada Solar Park, one of the largest in the world, which generates 2.05 gigawatts of clean energy. Karnataka is also home to India’sfirst large-scale hybrid wind and solar power plant.The state has put in place innovative energy policies to incentivize private investments and accelerate sustainable energy transition. We have invested in grid modernization and have procured tools such as supervisory control and data acquisition. As a result of all these measures, the grid distribution losses within the state have reached below 15 percent compared to the national average of 21 percent.

Q: What are some significant challenges you have faced as the secretary in the decarbonization of Karnataka’s energy sector?

A: Increasing the share of renewables in Karnataka’s electricity grid has presented several challenges in operating a reliable power system in the state. The variability and intermittency of the renewable generation is creating a pressing need for a much more adaptable and technologically advanced electricity grid. The “must-run” status of renewables, a status that limits the power curtailment from solar and wind power plants, has led to idle thermal capacity. The long-term power purchase agreement with thermal plants has resulted in the distribution utilities bearing the full fixed costs of such idle capacity. Demand forecasting remains a challenge. We continue to explore solutions to make this impending energy transition more reliable, affordable, and sustainable.

Q: What are the policies that Karnataka has pursued in decarbonizing the energy sector?

A: Our success in clean energy deployment is a result of a mix of policy, regulatory, and compliance measures. Karnataka has exempted solar power producers from several surcharges over the 10 years since commissioning. This has increased privatization of power generation in the state. A fully subsidized open-access market has helped mitigate the financial risk. The state has also encouraged developers and investors to own and operate rooftop solar power systems. We have used renewable generation for shifting the peak electric demand from the agriculture users. The peak-load shifting is also incentivized with time-differentiated tariffs.

Q: What do you think are the priorities for Karnataka’s electricity sector transformation?


  • 100 percent coal-free generation

  • Building 2000 megawatt of storage facility including a large pump-storage hydropower

  • Smart metering to allow time-differentiated tariffs

  • Electrification of transportation

  • Solar-based electric vehicle charging stations


Gujarat announces its new solar power policy. The policy has multiple incentives for reducing the share of coal-based power in the state’s energy mix. (Source: Economic Times)

Maharashtra allows a green power tariff for consumers opting for 100 percent green energy. (Source: : Mercom)

Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, signed a new climate bill into law, which creates a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions limit by 2050. (Source: wbur)

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, announced a new plan to develop offshore wind, which would be the first large-scale wind farms on the U.S. west coast. (Source: Washington Post)

Colorado announced a proposal that would provide $5.268 billion in transportation funding to fix roads and bridges, improve transit options, meet Colorado’s climate goals, and future proof the state’s transportation system. (Source: Fox)


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Biden’s Big Renewable Energy Opportunity in India
By Lachlan Carey: While India contributes only 7% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, its population continues to grow and as India’s economy develops further, their ability to chart a low-carbon future will heavily affect global climate progress. India has committed to ambitious renewable energy goals and there is an opportunity for the new Biden administration to accelerate global climate action, as explained by Lachlan Carey.

Build Basics Better: A Proposed U.S.-India Climate Agenda
By Neelima Jain: India has committed itself to ambitious targets towards a low-carbon path and is one of the few G20 countries on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. However, as one takes a closer look, we find that India faces multiple challenges: disjointed policies, the domination of coal, low demand for renewable energy, and more. Neelima Jain writes on a future course of action for U.S.-India climate progress.


State-level officials are playing a key role in delivering on the ambitious decarbonization targets in India and the United States. Through collaborative efforts, decisions makers in both countries can accelerate the clean energy transition by mobilizing to share new ideas and lessons learned from their policy experiences.

The Clean Energy Leadership Group (CELG) is a collaborative initiative between the CSIS Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Studies and the CSIS Energy Security and Climate Change Program.

CELG is made possible by the generous support of the SED Fund.