Electricity is really just organized lightning.

—George Carlin

2.1 Introduction to Generation

This chapter is an introduction to pre-“smart-grid” power generation. As always, it is important to keep in mind that the term “smart grid” is more of an ill-defined academic term and does not reflect the true, continuous evolution of the power grid. The grid has been continuously evolving to become “smart.” Also, remaining consistent with the goal of this book, the topic of communication within the power grid remains the focal point of this chapter. However, we will review selected power systems topics in depth, as that will be necessary to understand the rest of the material in this book. The high-level goal of this chapter is to convey the state of the power grid before large-scale distributed and renewable generation became a popular topic and, at the same time, to introduce fundamentals of electric power and power generation that will be required in later chapters.

The topic of power generation is introduced and the basics of centralized generation and alternating current are covered. This includes issues such as complex and reactive power, as well as power quality. From a communication perspective, it is important to have a fundamental understanding of communication and control in centralized generation systems. Thus, this chapter covers fieldbus protocols used in generating plants because these supervisory and data acquisition protocols have played an important role ...

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