Smart Grid Meaning; History and Examples Explained

Smart grid is an electricity transmission system that makes use of digital communication tools for consistent energy conservation and measurement. This article discusses smart grid meaning, history, and examples, according to the following outline;



-Smart Grid Meaning: 7 Ways to Define Smart Grids

-History of Smart Grid Systems

-Examples of Smart Grid Systems based on Functionality




Smart Grid Meaning: 7 Ways to Define Smart Grids

Smart grid is a network for measurement, two-way communication, and transmission of electricity [1].

In order to achieve its purpose, the smart grid is usually equipped with a number of important technologies. The following smart grid meaning, highlights some of them;

A smart grid is a type of energy management system that is equipped with artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for power analysis, feedback and distribution [3].

An alternative smart grid meaning below, shows the link between the concept and sustainable development;

Smart grid is an innovative system which was developed as a result of efforts to establish sustainability and circular economy, by ensuring energy conservation and energy efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and consumption.

Also within the context of sustainability, the following smart grid meaning, describes the concept in terms of its renewable energy application;

Smart grid is a modern, automated and conservative electricity distribution system, which can be used to optimize the consumption of power from hydroelectric facilities, solar systems, geothermal, wave, and nuclear power plants, among others.

Below is another alternative smart grid meaning, whereby the concept is defined on the basis of its integrative aspects;

Smart grid is a power unit that results from the seamless integration of communication, artificial intelligence, energy distribution and management systems, in order to optimize the handling of energy.

The next smart grid meaning that is outlined below, mentions a number of smart grid components;

A smart grid is an innovative electricity management system, that is composed of electric generators, distribution and transmission equipment, power substations, collector nodes, transmission and distribution control centers, networking systems, and smart meters [5].

Smart Grid Meaning: Some Components of Smart Grids (Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture 2018)
Smart Grid Meaning: Some Components of Smart Grids (Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture 2018)


Lastly, the smart grid meaning is outlined based on the functions of these systems;

A smart grid is a power facility whose functions include metering, analysis, feedback and communication, transmission, distribution and automation of electricity.


History of Smart Grid Systems

The history of smart grid can be traced back to the late nineteenth century when; in 1886, the first alternating current electric grid was completed and installed in Great Barrington, Massachusetts; as a centralized power transmission and distribution system [4].

In the twentieth century, electric grid technology become more advanced and established. Factors which can be used to explain these rapid developments include the discovery of fossil fuels, invention of modern electric motors and generators, and general industrial advancement.

By the 1960s, large power grid systems had already become established in developed countries. These systems functioned as unidirectional and centralized units that distributed power to designated areas using modern transmission equipment.

Power capacities of more than 1,000 MW became common as well, during this period.

The sources of power for these grids were mainly coal and petroleum-fired power plants. They generally lacked some of the equipment for energy conservation and efficiency that are now available.

Earliest indications of the need to improve existing grid technologies came in the 1970s, when rising power demand revealed incompetency in the operation of both power plants and grid networks. However, due to technological limitations at the time, the only changes made involved the construction and deployment of more power stations and grids.

Smart grid development commenced in the 1980s and 1990s, with the advent of automated, high-capacity electric metering [2].

By the early twenty-first century, developments in artificial intelligence, communication and data analytics technologies, enabled smart grids to incorporate multiple functions with more efficiency, and to become more self-sustaining.

Recent developments in smart grid technology can be observed in smart house integration and energy management, and Wide Area Measurement System (WAMS) technologies.


Examples of Smart Grid Systems based on Functionality

Examples of smart grid systems are;

1. Thermal Efficiency-Monitoring and Optimization Systems

2. Energy Cost Analysis Systems

3. Layout Optimization Systems

4. Consumer Metrics and Feedback Systems

5. Real-time Performance Data Management Systems

6. Residential Utility Data Systems

7. Smart Energy Communications and Networking Systems

8. Grid Automation Algorithms

9. Wide-Area Situation Awareness (WASA) Systems

These examples each represent smart grid functionalities. They are examples of smart grid systems based on functionality and specialization, although ideally, all smart grids are expected to have all functionalities listed above.



Smart grid is an electricity metering, analysis, transmission and distribution system that is driven by artificial intelligence and communications technology, for the purpose of optimizing energy efficiency and conservation.

The history of smart grids dates back to the late nineteenth century, with the advent of centralized electricity distribution systems. It became advanced and widely adopted with the growth of digital communication and artificial intelligence in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Examples of smart grid are; thermal efficiency monitoring and optimization systems, energy cost analysis systems, layout optimization systems, consumer metrics and feedback systems, real-time performance data management systems, residential utility data systems, smart energy communications and networking systems, grid automation systems, and wide-area situation awareness (WASA) systems.



1). Atmaja, T. D.; Andriani, D.; Darussalam, R. (2019). “Smart Grid communication applications: measurement equipment and networks architecture for data and energy flow.” Mechatronics Electrical Power and Vehicular Technology 10(2):73. Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2022).

2). Law, Y. W.; Pota, H. R.; Jin, J.; Man, Z.; Palaniswami, M. (2014). “Control and communication techniques for the smart grid: An energy efficiency perspective.” IFAC Proceedings Volumes (IFAC-PapersOnline). Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2022).

3). Muleta, N.; Badar, A. (2021). “Study of Energy Management System and IOT Integration in Smart Grid.” 2021 1st International Conference on Power Electronics and Energy (ICPEE). Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2022).

4). Safiuddin, M. (2013). “HISTORY OF ELECTRIC GRID.” Foundations of Smart Grid (pp.6-11). Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2022).

5). Shobole, A. A.; Tur, M. R.; Ali, M. H.; Wadi, M. (2019). “Overview of Big Data in Smart Grid.” 8TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON RENEWABLE ENERGY RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS, Romania. Available at: (Accessed 6 September 2022).

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