How Smart Grids Work?

​​​​​The present electricity grid delivers electricity from points of generation to consumers through two primary systems. The transmission system brings electricity from power plants to distribution substations, while the distribution system delivers electricity from distribution substations to consumers.

A smart grid would allow new large-scale, renewable-energy projects to connect to the grid. On the distribution side, the smart grid would integrate new digital technology into local electricity distribution networks that would help manage the demand that appliances and other end-use equipment place on the grid at key times of the day, improve the efficiency of electricity distribution within local networks, and provide better information about electricity use in homes, businesses, and public institutions.

The smart grid will also provide the pricing and control system to flexibly integrate new distributed energy resourcessolar panels, energy storage devices, and electric vehiclesclose to the point of demand. Users could charge up their plug-in cars at night to later feed that power back into the grid as their cars are parked at work or at home during the day.

In general, working of smart grid technology can be understood by grouping into following key areas:

  1. Integrated Communications
  2. Sensing and Measurement-Smart Meters, Phase Measurement Units
  3. Advanced Components-Superconductivity
  4. Advanced Control and Pricing Mechanism-Real Time Pricing
  5. Distributed Generation- Feed-in Tariff, Renewable Energy Resources.
  6. Energy Storage
  7. Electric Vehicles

The smart grid vision involves a uniformly integrated communication system with the present power system. Present communication systems have evolved over a period of time and lack uniformity and thus interoperability. The communication system shall be a two-way system where the load can be controlled remotely from a control center and also read the real time power consumption of the load. To enable this real time monitoring, advanced devices like smart sensors, smart meters and phase measurement units will be required to be integrated in the smart grid system. It would enable quick fault detection and analysis of the system, thus increasing reliability. The real time-monitoring and control will enable a market dependent pricing mechanism and thus a deregulated market. Also, consumers would be able to feed power back into the grid and earn according to the feed-in tariff. All these will help in reducing the peak demand and the country's dependence on fossil fuel energy. The next stage envisaged is incorporation of advanced technologies like superconductivity in the transmission network to increase the efficiency of the system. ​

Smart Grid Bulletin January 2019

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