“The smart grid is investment by electric utilities to integrate modern communications, electronics and analytics; undertaken to increase the available information which enables more refined grid control, management and automation, in efforts to improve efficiency, reliability and overall performance of the electric grid.”
The key idea here is to provide a link between generation of the utility and consumption of the utility. Currently, grid infrastructure mostly fails in this regard; once utilities reach the consumer, little or no information is available about the profile of consumption. Not only is there a lack of information available, there is also a lack of control. A smart grid should both provide information about consumption trends, and also a level of control over the actual demand.
This concept applies equally to different utility types, i.e. water, electricity, gas and heat. Having said this, current smart grid investment is mainly associated with electric utility and, as such, most discussion found within this IMS Research Portal will concern itself with electricity supply.
An electrical grid is characterized as these four main elements:
Generation – Transmission – Distribution – Consumption
The diagram to the right represents how these four elements will evolve as the grid becomes increasingly “smart”. In this example, the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) parts have been combined to simplify the graphical representation. Use the diagram to navigate to the different parts of the grid for more insight.