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In a modern power grid, there are many different types of power production systems. There are the conventional large generation plants using nuclear power and conventional fossil power plants and hydroelectric systems. There is also wind, geothermal, solar, and tidal generation systems. Smart grids are necessary for demand-response power production, and to manage the contribution of the non-conventional systems, which are not consistent power producers. The price of power can now change anywhere from every 15 minutes to every hour in a demand/response system. Much more visibility is necessary to deal with cost changes, power origination changes, and changeable grid reliability.
It is necessary to provide quality power for the 21st century, for the Internet of Things, and Manufacturing 4.0. It is equally necessary to produce a scalable and improvable grid in developing countries that need electrical power but have limited infrastructure. A new kind of grid needs to be designed and built to satisfy the requirements of this new century. For about a decade now, this has been called the Smart Grid.
The heart of the Smart Grid is a robust, integrated communications network with enough speed and bandwidth to produce near-instantaneous communications from any node on the grid to any node on the grid, and back.