Communications Technologies for Smart Grid Applications: A Review of Advances and Challenges

Communications Technologies for Smart Grid Applications: A Review of Advances and Challenges

Gurkan Tuna (Trakya University, Turkey), Resul Daş (Fırat University, Turkey) and Vehbi Cagri Gungor (Abdullah Gul University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3996-4.ch008


Smart grid is a modern power grid infrastructure for improved efficiency, reliability, and safety, with smooth integration of renewable and alternative energy sources, through automated control and modern communications technologies. The smart grid offers several advantages over traditional power grids such as reduced operational costs and opening new markets to utility providers, direct communication with customer premises through advanced metering infrastructure, self-healing in case of power drops or outage, providing security against several types of attacks, and preserving power quality by increasing link quality. Typically, a heterogeneous set of networking technologies is found in the smart grid. In this chapter, smart grid communications technologies along with their advantages and disadvantages are explained. Moreover, research challenges and open research issues are provided.
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Electricity is the widely used form of energy and modern society significantly depends on it. On the other hand, although the global demand for electricity is growing tremendously, most of the electrical power systems were built up over more than a century. In addition, most of the installed electricity generation capacity relies heavily on fossil fuels, and this increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and makes a significant contribution to climate change.

To fulfill the increasing demand for power and mitigate the consequences of climate change, an electric system that can address these challenges in an economic, sustainable and reliable way is needed (Gungor et al., 2013). In this respect, smart grids can meet the rising electricity demand, enhance energy efficiency, increase quality and reliability of power supplies, and integrate low carbon energy sources into power networks as shown in Figure 1 (Liserre, Sauter, & Hung, 2010). Basically, a smart grid is an evolved power grid built on sophisticated infrastructure that manages electricity demand in an economic, reliable and sustainable manner.

Figure 1.

Smart Grid

Different from the traditional power grids, smart grids apply high standards to the control capability of all facilities. Because, although in the traditional power grids, power flows travelled from generators to customers, in smart grids, due to the increasing use of distributed power generation relying on renewable resources which fluctuate over time, there are additional sources of power flows which an electric utility must contend with (Lu, Kanchev, Colas, Lazarov, & Francois, 2011; Saber, & Venayagamoorthy, 2011). The distributed power generated by small units also requires a high degree of flexibility during distribution. In favour of various environmental and economic factors, in addition to large-scale integration of renewable energy sources, smart grids accommodate Demand Response (DR) capacity to help balance electrical consumption with supply (Palensky & Dietrich, 2011), as well as the potential for integrating new technologies to utilise energy storage devices and enable efficient use of plug-in electric vehicles.

Since in smart grids the ability to control the electricity supply gives consumers new ways to influence demand, accurate models of user behaviour are needed to assess control algorithms which realise admission and policing of flows from utility-owned or consumer-owned power sources. In this regard, there is an obvious need for communications networks which support reliable and secure information transfer between the various entities in the evolved power grids. However, although there are already modern communications technologies which can provide a secure and reliable communications system between the production facilities of electricity networks, electricity consumers and devices, in terms of network performance, suitability, interoperability and security, there are many issues that need to be resolved (Gungor et al., 2011).

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