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Historically the electric power system has been designed and operated to provide a reliable supply of electricity at a lowest possible cost. This paradigm is now shifting due to the rising cost of fossil fuel and nuclear power stations, and the concern about global warming and climate change. As a result environmental sustainability and energy security are now becoming important considerations. While fossil fuels have been the primary sources of electricity for the last one hundred years, their cost, uneven global distribution and climate change impacts are encouraging planners to look for alternatives in renewable solar resources, which are distributed. But such generation sources have their own challenges -­‐ primarily intermittency. Many believe that the smart grid – due to its inherent communication, sensing and control capabilities – will have the ability to manage the load, storage and generation assets in the power grid to enable a large scale integration of distributed generation. Demand response will also play a role to smooth out some of the power fluctuations arising from intermittent sources.
A smart grid will look more like the Internet, where information about the state of the grid and its components can be exchanged quickly over long distances and complex networks. It will therefore be possible to have the integration of sustainable energy sources, such as wind, solar, off-­‐shore electricity, etc. for smoother system operation. But in order for this to be possible, the electric utility will have to evolve and change their ways of operation and become an intelligent provider of these services. This lecture introduces the operational characteristics of renewable energy sources, and various aspects of the smart grid -­‐ technology, standards, regulations and data security. It also addresses the interplay among distributed generation, storage, conventional generation and demand response to provide an efficient operational strategy in the context of the smart grid.
Professor Saifur Rahman is the founding director of the Advanced Research Institute at Virginia Tech where he is the Joseph R. Loring professor of electrical and computer engineering. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and an IEEE Millennium Medal winner.  He is the founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Electrification Magazine. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy. He has served as the chair of the US National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering from 2010 to 2013. He is a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE PES, and has lectured on smart grid, energy efficient lighting solutions, renewable energy, demand  response, distributed generation and critical infrastructure protection topics.