The Center for Smart Energy (CSE) lists seven key characteristics of a modern, optimized grid:
Self-healing. A grid able to rapidly detect, analyze, respond and restore from perturbations.
Empower and incorporate the consumer. The ability to incorporate consumer equipment and behavior in the design and operation of the grid.
Tolerant of attack. A grid that mitigates and stands resilient to physical and cyber security attacks.
Provides power quality needed by 21st century users. A grid that provides a quality of power consistent with consumer and industry needs.
Accommodates a wide variety of generation options. A grid that accommodates a wide variety of local and regional generation technologies (including green power).
Fully enables maturing electricity markets. Allows competitive markets for those who want them.
Optimizes assets. A grid that uses IT and monitoring to continually optimize its capital assets while minimizing operations and maintenance costs.
Your question is a bit vague, but it seems that the key component to implementing smart grids is updating the existing power grid with 21st century technological improvements to ensure the optimal energy efficiency that characterizes the smart grid.
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