IEEE Power & Energy Society

Book Review

Smart Grids

Historical Context, Standards, and Advances

In this column, the reviewer takes a chapter-by-chapter look at the book, Smart Grid: Communication-Enabled Intelligence for the Electric Power Grid. The smart grid is always a hot topic so this book is sure to be of interest to those seeking more information on the subject.

Smart Grid: Communication-Enabled Intelligence for the Electric Power Grid

Smart Grid: Communication-Enabled Intelligence for the Electric Power Gridby Stephen F. Bush, ISBN 978-1-119-97580-1

Chapter 1

The historical development of the power system along with the analogy between power systems and communications provides a solid context for understanding the evolution of power grid communications. Drivers for the smart grid concept are reviewed along with the case study of a blackout. Complexity and information theory are introduced as key components of smart grid communication as well as a new power system information theory. A key component of this new theory is leveraging the fundamental relation between energy and information, a core theme throughout the book.

Chapter 2

Power generation is one of the key components of the power grid and is evolving rapidly. The smart grid cannot be understood without placing power generation technology in a historical context along with its fundamental, invariant physics. Communication within the evolving power grid is heavily influenced by process control and supervisory and data acquisition communication systems used in power plants and substations. Early energy storage systems are often used in conjunction with power generation systems and are reviewed as well.

Chapter 3

The purpose and benefits of the power transmission system are reviewed along with types of communication systems that have typically been used for transmission. Power grid system components that play a role in the transmission system are progressively introduced; the better one understands the needs and requirements of these devices for communication, the better the communication network can be designed and implemented. Power system concepts such as the frequency analysis, phasors, and the per-unit system are introduced.

Chapter 4

The distribution system must partition large amounts of power into relatively small amounts to many different consumers. While the general rule of local sensing and control applies to the distribution system, communication through the distribution system using techniques such as distribution line carrier has a long history. As more communication and control are incorporated into the power grid, the closer the grid can come to its operating limits. Brittle system analysis is introduced as a means of studying this phenomena and its impact on the communication system.

Chapter 5

Demand-side management has a long history, and lessons have been learned about consumer innovation with respect to smart grid concepts. Consumer surveys related to the smart grid show intriguing results. Comprehensive reviews of the future power grid that will directly touch the consumer are discussed. The basics of microgrid generation systems and the reason for their limited communication requirements are explained to lay the foundation for further discussion of microgrids.

Chapter 6

Fundamental physics shows us the relationship between energy and information; this relationship quantifies the unique aspects of communication in the power grid and how it improves energy efficiency. This forms the core of a new field known as power system information theory, explained for the first time in this book. The energy-information relationship leads to a fundamental understanding of the minimal amount of processing and communication required to compensate for energy transmission inefficiency. The energy-information relationship is also applied to fundamental physical aspects of communication in both wireless and wave guide communication.

Chapter 7

Demand-side management can be thought of as extending management of the power grid through the consumer to the load itself. There are myriad ways to achieve this goal; some require communication, such as demand response, and others do not, such as dynamic demand. It is important to know the difference and history or risk reinventing it.

Chapter 8

Control of distributed generation systems is crucial to understanding microgrid communication requirements. Control and communication requirements of emerging energy storage systems are reviewed. From the transmission perspective, flexible ac transmission systems (FACTS) and high-voltage, dc transmission systems are explained. The ultimate evolution in power transmission technology would be wireless—high power, wide-area wireless power transmission. This fascinating topic and it implications for communications is explored in detail.

Chapter 9

The distribution system has been a natural interface for many different “smart grid” applications. The distribution system is where “the rubber meets the road” with regard to smart grid and communications. There are many new opportunities to combine smart grid applications in new ways within the distribution system. New ways of automating protection and incorporating self-healing are revealed. The types of communication most suitable for the rapid technology changes expected in the distribution system are discussed.

Chapter 10

Standards are a practical requirement for a successful implementation of the “smart grid.’’ Many smart grid-related standards are still in development and will almost certainly continue to undergo considerable change. Each major standards organization that is developing smart grid-related standards is reviewed.

Chapter 11

The appellation, “smart,’’ in “smart grid” conjures up the notion of a power grid with “intelligence,’’ in the form of artificial or machine intelligence. Power grid communication and networking must be designed to support such intelligence. Techniques involving artificial intelligence and machine learning for the power grid are explored while highlighting the role of communication and networking. Communication can benefit from advances in machine intelligence; of machine-to-machine communication, the semantic Web, cognitive radio, and cognitive networking serve as attempts to incorporate intelligence into communication and are extensions of the active networking concept. The fundamental nature of complexity and communication in the form of active networking and communication complexity plays a role in power system information theory.

Chapter 12

State estimation and stability are fundamental components of control of the power grid and are also used in communication systems; both topics are reviewed with particular emphases on application in power systems. Networked control extends control of the power grid over communication networks and must overcome challenges that variable performance and reliability of the communication network impose upon the control system.

Chapter 13

Phasors, symmetrical components, and synchrophasors are explained. Understanding synchrophasors and their applications allows their communication and networking requirements to be better understood and their properties to be exploited to improve communication. Compression of synchrophasors, by both passive (classical source coding) and active (active networking techniques) means, is also explained. For applications to use synchrophasors, they must be transported in a standard manner. Thus, synchrophasor standards are reviewed.

Chapter 14

Advances in power electronics will impact both the smart grid and its supporting communications. Advances in high-power, solid-state electronics along with communication will enable the power grid to operate in a more efficient and flexible manner. A comprehensive review of power electronic advances in FACTS and the solid-state transformer is given. Superconducting technology offers new capability to power grid components that may be leveraged not only for power system efficiency but also for new communication and computation technologies such as quantum computation within the power grid.

Chapter 15

Technologies exhibit trends that allow us to anticipate new innovation far beyond the limited smart grid horizon. Core themes are smaller-scale power generation and management, nanogrids, power system information theory, wireless power transmission, the ability to harness power from geomagnetic storms, and the integration of quantum phenomena with power grid, including quantum communication, computation, and energy teleportation. Power system information theory enables Maxwell’s demon within the power grid. Nanoscale communication networks are discussed for future nanogrids. Space-based power generation is also explored.


There is an introduction to the concept of cosimulation and a description of freely available power system and communication network simulators.

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  • May/June 2019
    High Voltage Direct Current
  • July/August 2019
    Substation of the Future
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    Architecting the Interactive Grid
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    The Power Is Blowing in the Wind
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    Advanced Distribution System Applications