The Smart Grid

1.1 Introduction

Established electric power systems, which have developed over the past 70 years, feed electrical power from large central generators up through generator transformers to a high voltage interconnected network, known as the transmission grid. Each individual generator unit, whether powered by hydropower, nuclear power or fossil fuelled, is large with a rating of up to 1000 MW. The transmission grid is used to transport the electrical power, sometimes over considerable distances, and this power is then extracted and passed through a series of distribution transformers to final circuits for delivery to the end customers.

The part of the power system supplying energy (the large generating units and the transmission grid) has good communication links to ensure its effective operation, to enable market transactions, to maintain the security of the system, and to facilitate the integrated operation of the generators and the transmission circuits. This part of the power system has some automatic control systems though these may be limited to local, discrete functions to ensure predictable behaviour by the generators and the transmission network during major disturbances.

The distribution system, feeding load, is very extensive but is almost entirely passive with little communication and only limited local controls. Other than for the very largest loads (for example, in a steelworks or in aluminium smelters), there is no real-time monitoring of either the ...

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