According to a 2010 International Energy Agency report, smart grid technologies and systems have the potential to reduce global CO2 emissions by more than two gigatons per year by 2050. Smart grids can reduce emissions directly by saving energy through peak load management, reduced transmission and distribution losses, and by providing feedback on energy use. Smart grids can further reduce emissions by enabling greater integration of renewable energy sources and by facilitating greater electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle adoption.
Smart grid technologies and systems are evolving rapidly, and distinct motivations drive their deployment in each country and region. In many regions, smart grids are seen as a pathway to solving energy access concerns and as a pathway to economic development by ensuring levels of reliability necessary for cutting-edge information technology businesses. In other regions, smart grids are viewed as a critical enabling component for the integration of renewable energy sources. Whatever the driving motivations for grid modernization, policymakers will face the challenge of integrating the technical, economic, and human dimensions of smart grid systems into a coherent vision of a 21st century electrical grid.
This page presents technical resources that policymakers can use to inform the design and implementation of smart grid technologies and systems.