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For a hundred years, there has been no change in the basic structure of the electrical power grid. Experiences have shown that the hierarchical, centrally-controlled grid of the twentieth century is ill-suited to the needs of the twenty-first. To address the challenges of the existing power grid, the new concept of smart grid has emerged.

The smart grid can be considered as a modern electric power grid infrastructure for enhanced efficiency and reliability through automated control, high power converters, and a modern communications infrastructure, sensing and metering technologies, modern energy management techniques based on the optimization of demand, energy and network availability, and so on. While current power systems are based on a solid, centric-based, information and communication infrastructure, the new smart grid needs a different and much more complex one, as its dimension is much larger.

Therefore, information and communications technologies (ICT) represents a fundamental element in the growth and performance of smart grids. Power electronics is another key enabling technology because it is fundamental for utilization of renewable energies and for ensuring easily connectivity among the numerous power sources and stable operation in presence of weak grids. Advanced Metering Infrastructure is another fundamental element of SG because it allow full control of power flows, management of loads, billing and full implementation of energy saving and protection through demand side management.

This speech will addresses issues on smart grids primarily in terms of information and communication technology (ICT), power electronics AMI issues and opportunities. Its objective is to provide a contemporary look at the current state of the art in smart grid general concepts, with emphasis on the role of power electronics, smart metering and on the necessary communication infrastructure necessary for full integration among the huge amount of intelligent systems connected with a smart grid. Emphasis will be also given to the important problem of co-existence of the huge number of renewable energy generators and the need for their synchronization.

The speech will also deal with issues related to smart houses focusing the attention on the opportunities given by an advanced meter infrastructure (AMI), which is a key element in the smart grid. Research challenges are described with the deployment of the AMI project in North America, Asia and Europe.

The speech will be concluded discussing the still-open research issues in this field, and hence, to make the decision-making process more effective and direct.

It is expected that the speech will provide a better understanding of the key enabling technologies, potential advantages and research challenges of the smart grid and provoke interest among the research community to further explore this promising research area.

   

Professor Carlo Cecati is a Full Professor of Converters, Electrical Machines and Drives at University of L'Aquila, Italy. He is a Fellow of IEEE and the Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Trans. on Industrial Electronics, after serving as Co-Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor since 2004. He also served as an Editor of IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics (2006-2008) and a Guest Editor of several special sections of IEEE Trans. on Industrial Electronics and IEEE Trans. on Industrial Informatics. His research interests fall into the area of renewable energies and energy saving, in particular, the application of power electronics to renewable energy, distributed generation, smart grids and electrical drives, with emphasis on control, modulation techniques, fault diagnosis, microprocessor applications and industrial networks. In these fields, he published more than 130 papers in the most prestigious international journals and conference proceedings. He was a recipient of the Best Paper Awards of IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics and IEEE Industrial Electronics Magazine.

He has been an Invited Speaker and a Tutorial Speaker at several universities and conferences in USA, Canada, U.K., Korea, Denmark, Qatar, China, Poland, Angola, Italy. He has been an evaluator of research projects for several national and international institutions including the European Community and Qatar National Research Foundation and an evaluator for numerous international universities in promotions to assistant/associate/full professors and in electrical degree course accreditation.