6

What is Smart Grid Communication?

Imagine the fundamental advances that would have taken place if Maxwell, Tesla, and Shannon could have met.

—Stephen F Bush

6.1 Introduction

In Part One, Electric Power Systems: The Main Component, we reviewed the power grid and its fundamental operation as it existed before the term “smart grid” was fabricated. Part One is an important prerequisite for the remainder of the book. It sets the historical context from which the “smart grid” is evolving. Without this context, much of the smart grid may seem a non sequitur. It also explains underlying physics behind power grid operation, crucial to understand when applying communication and networking. It also explains the mindset behind power system design, which differs considerably from communication and networking.

This chapter opens Part Two, Communication and Networking: The Enabler, which focuses upon communication and networking for the power grid. The term “enabler” in the title is important; communication must be viewed as supporting the power grid, not as an end in itself. The question, of course, is what precisely is being enabled? Communication has been used in the power grid almost since its inception, and its use is naturally increasing; a question is whether communication is enabling anything fundamentally new or simply enhancing ideas that have been around for a long time. The “elephant in the room, ” so to speak, is why more communication is needed. Why cannot most grid operation ...

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