A "smart grid" is an electric power delivery system that stretches from point of generation to point of consumption. Integrated with advanced communications and information technology, all equipment and devices in a smart grid are connected by sensory elements to form a complete power network. The information is integrated and analyzed to optimize power resources, reduce costs, increase reliability, and enhance electric power efficiency.
A smart grid is an intelligent automated system for monitoring the flow of electricity and making the distribution of electricity more efficient. In a world where protecting the environment is a major concern, it is important to find cost-effective ways of reducing power usage and increasing energy independence.
Existing power supply systems implement a "centralized power supply" that often involves high voltages and large-scale electric power networks. With this type of power supply, failures in the electricity network can have a huge impact on the entire power supply system, and often cause widespread system shutdowns.
Because of the potential benefits, many governments are developing smart grid solutions and implementing a distributed power network instead of a centralized network. Distributed power networks are highly integrated and include power generation, power transmission, and power distribution, with power meters and home appliances, such as refrigerators, TV sets, washing machines, and personal computers also considered part of the network. Engineers who design and manage distributed power networks must handle a number of tasks, including energy management, data communication, and information analysis.
Why Get Smart?
Using a smart grid solution provides the following benefits:
Enhances energy usage efficiency
Increases the proportion of distributed power generation systems and renewable energy solutions
Enhances the flexibility of the power supply
Reduces the overall costs of delivering power to end users
Improves the stability and quality of the power supply
Makes all facets of energy distribution safer
Smart Grid Architecture
By optimizing the electric power grid we can get more out of the existing infrastructure without needing to invest a lot of capital in new technology for generation, transmission, and distribution facilities. In fact, by making the grid smart, we can create a completely integrated system, from power generation to power distribution to power use in the household, and to a certain degree, the smart grid concept can get the most out of renewable energy operations by integrating the local micro-electricity grid to replace more traditional power supply sources such as carbon-fueled and nuclear power plants.