1. SMART GRIDS
The European Union Commission Task Force for Smart Grids provides the following definition for smart:
"A Smart Grid is an electricity network that can cost-efficiently integrate the behaviour and actions of all users connected to it – generators, consumers and those that do both – in order to ensure economically efficient, the sustainable power system with low losses and high levels of quality and security of supply and safety. A smart grid employs innovative products and services together with intelligent monitoring, control, communication, and self-healing technologies in order to:
Other characteristics of the smart grid as stated in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA-2007)of the USA  include:
1.2 Key Components of Smart Grid
Some of the key components of a smart grid system are listed and briefly discuss below
A reliable, high-speed integrated communication platform is considered to be a basic component in the implementation of a smarter transmission system. It connects components to an open architecture for real-time information, control and data exchange to optimise the reliability of the system, utilisation of assets and security.
Sensing and Measurements
Advanced sensing and measurement technologies will collect data and alter them to better manage power systems. These technologies are used for the evaluation and monitoring of equipment health, the prevention of energy theft and for control strategies support. They are also used to eliminate billing estimations, assess grid stability and obstruction and support frequent meter readings. They will also help consumers to enhance their electrical usage by providing them with information concerning their daily demands.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
It is comprised of systems that measure, gather and evaluate the amount of energy used and communicate with metering devices. These systems consist of hardware, software, communications, Meter Data Management software, consumer energy displays and controls and many others.
In order to have a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly modern grid system, development in advanced control method is a must. These technologies are devices and algorithms that enable rapid diagnosis and analysis of the modern grid system. Whenever necessary, it takes appropriate corrective measures to diminish power outages or even prevent outages from happening. There will be better control at the transmission, distribution and consumer levels when using these methods.
Improved interfaces and decision support
Improved interfaces and decision support are important technologies that consist of devices and training that will amplify human-decision making and transforming grid operators and managers into knowledgeable workers to operate the modern grid.
These technologies will reduce complexity by converting data from power systems into information that can be easily understood by humans. After the convention, data can be in terms of animation, virtual reality and other data-display techniques that will help the operator to quickly identify, analyse and act on emerging problems. Therefore, time to take a decision regarding certain issues is considerably reduced.
1.3 Possible Research Topics in Smart Grid Systems
2. Energy Management
Energy Management System (EMS) widely refers to a computer system which is designed specifically for the automated control, monitoring and optimization of electric power and utility systems. They help reduce energy consumption, improve the utilization of systems, increase reliability, and predict electrical system performance as well as optimize energy usage to reduce cost. The scope may span from a load dispatch centre to a group of power networks. Most energy management systems also provide decision making facilities for real-time operation and control. The data obtained from such actions are used to train operators in a control centre and for performing engineering studies for futuristic actions like planning, optimization and maintenance schedules, etc. on a frequent basis and to produce trend analysis and annual consumption forecasts.
EMS applications use real-time data such as frequency, actual generation, tie-line load flows, and plant units’ controller status to provide system changes. EMS had its origin in the need for electric utility companies to operate their generators as economical as possible. To operate power systems as economical as possible, the characteristics of all generating units need to be available in one location so that the most efficient units could be dispatched properly along with the less efficient ones. Energy management systems can also provide metering and monitoring functions that allow facility and building managers to gather data and insight that allows them to make more informed decisions about energy activities across their sites.
2.2 Research areas in Energy Management Systems include: