The smart grid is the integration of the 20th century traditional electrical power grid with the most recent 21st telecommunication and information technologies. Such integration enables efficient resource utilization to optimize energy consumption, install and manage distributed energy sources, as well as to exchange the generated power.
In the simplest terms, building a smart grid means securing the future of energy supply for everyone in a rapidly growing population with a limited power production capacity. A smart grid reduces the losses, increases efficiency, optimizes the energy demand distribution and also makes large-scale renewable energy such as solar and wind deployments a reality.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has recently emerged as enabling technology for the smart gird. Each device in the grid can be considered as an object. Utilizing the concept of IoT, each device can have a unique IP address that can upload its status and download control commands via the Internet.
As the smart grid concepts emerged as a fast-growing research and development topic in the last few years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a conceptual model for the smart grid to set the stage for a better understanding to the smart grid technology.
The NIST conceptual model consists of seven domains: bulk generations, transmissions, distributions, consumers, markets, operations and service providers. Smart grid users communicate in two-way directions by utilizing several wireless and wired communication protocols such as Zigbee, WiFi, Homeplug, power line carrier, GPRS, WiMax, LET, Lease line, and Fibers.
Several software packages were updated and many are being developed to accommodate the new grid operation, maintenance and management such as, distribution management system (DMS), geographic information systems (GIS), outage management systems (OMS), customer information systems (CIS), and supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA).
Smart Grid Technologies
There are five fundamental technologies defined by the US Department of Energy originated from the Smart Grid systems. These technologies are combined in order to make smart grid more efficient and reliable than the present grid.
- Integrated Communications
Provides real-time information and control. The components are connected to open architecture allowing every part of the grid to talk and listen.
- Sensing and Measurement Technologies
These are used for accurate responses and faster assistance. Some of the functions provided by these technologies are: remote controlling, management of aggregated demand, and billing generation.
- Advanced Components
These have been used for latest research in power electronics, storage, superconductivity and diagnostics.
- Advanced Control Methods
These are used to control essential components, faster diagnosis and provide precise solutions according to any event.
- Improved Interfaces and Decision Support
Smart systems have been improved to speed up human decision-making, changing grid operators and define new futuristic approaches.
Smart Grid Communication Protocols
Smart grid communications are based on wireless and wired networks technologies. Regardless of the technology, these networks can be classified based on their functionality within the smart grid. These classifications, as reported in the literature, are: home area network, neighborhood area network, access network, backhaul network, core and external networks.
These networks connect many smart grid objects such as home appliances, smart meters, switches, reclosers, capacitors bank, integrated electronic devices, transformer, relays, actuators, access points, concentrators, routers, computers, printers, scanners, cameras, field testing devices, and other devices.
All these appliances and devices are geographically distributed throughout the grid, starting from residential units to substations and up to utility data and command centers.
Regulations and standards continue to drive the adoption of connected devices all across the smart grid industry from grid infrastructure to smart meters down to homes and buildings. While migrating to smart meters adds a new layer of complexity, the return on investment such as improved customer experience and energy efficiency is becoming more apparent.
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