Increasing complexity of power grids and tighter integration of renewable resources continue to present reliability challenges that require a quantum leap in harnessing information and communications technologies leading to the “smart grid”. To meet these challenges, this paper envisions a grid-wide IT architectural framework to support a multitude of geographically and temporally coordinated monitoring, analysis, and control actions over multiple timescales from milliseconds and up, through distribution of intelligence using autonomous agents. The agents act in a distributed and coordinated three-dimensional virtual hierarchy based on organizational, geographical, and functional considerations. This architecture enables system-wide cloud communications to support seamless integration of local intelligence by enabling agents at all levels to access decentralized databases and transmit data/commands wherever needed. This infrastructure is based on open standards to enable configurability and fail-proof secure communications among agents using plug-and-play hardware and software modules. Such modular, flexible, and scalable infrastructure meets the global operational needs and allows for evolutionary implementation. The architectural approach envisioned in the paper presents an IT framework that addresses ever-increasing grid reliability challenges by responding to steady-state and transient operating conditions in real-time more effectively and thus enabling self-healing capabilities, through utilization of modern sensing, communications, computing and control systems.
A Reliability Perspective of the Smart Grid
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