The term “smart grid” means many things to many people, but there is one characteristic that people agree on: the focus of technology developments that transform how we will regard future power generation and consumption.
One such technology development is the concept of widely distributed power generation facilities. In the past, a relatively small number of power plants were controlled by a relatively small number of utilities. In the future, more generation facilities such as wind farms and solar power plants will be controlled by a larger number of corporations and individuals.
The old system of “one-way” power flow will not be sufficient for the smart grid. A new paradigm of integrated systems offering two-way power flow, control and information sharing is required. Not only will technical issues have to be solved, but utilities will have to adjust their view of the grid architecture to embrace distributed generation and work with other parties to create an optimized solution. The large numbers of diverse and widely-scattered generation sources must “collaborate” effectively with utilities to meet consumers’ power needs and avoid problems.