A smart grid is a modernized electrical grid that uses information and communications technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers in homes and business, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity.

Smart grid policy is organized in Europe as Smart Grid European Technology Platform. Policy in the United States is described in 42 U.S.C. (U.S. Code) ch. 152, subch. IX § 17381. Roll-out of smart grid technology also implies a fundamental re-engineering of the electricity services industry, although typical usage of the term is focused on the technical infrastructure. Electric vehicles may also be considered as part of the grid.

Most opposition and concerns have centered on smart meters and the items (such as remote control, remote disconnect, and variable rate pricing) enabled by them. Where opposition to smart meters is encountered, they are often marketed as "smart grid" which connects smart grid to smart meters in the eyes of opponents. With the advent of cybercrime there is also concern on the security of the infrastructure, primarily around the communications technology at the heart of the smart grid.

Energy and telecommunications sectors - inclusive of the policy-making communities - debated the most pertinent issues relating to the EU-wide roll out of intelligent energy networks. The successful convergence of these major infrastructure sectors will dictate the successful delivery of the European smart grid. Has a strong and clear enough case been made so far for a European smart grid? What future social and economic benefits would the European smart grid bring? What might a market for smart grid technologies and energy tariffs look like? How will spectrum and bandwidth considerations determine the possibilities the smart grid will offer, particularly in terms of the Internet of Things and smarter homes?
European technology platform for the electricity networks of the future
The European Smart Grid Conference 2013 discussed on the following issues:

On Regulatory and Financial Framework: The issues of regulation and finance for the grid are critical. Without a stable regulatory and investment environment, smart grid deployment will not reach an EU-wide scale. What models and policies are being developed that can deliver progressive smart grid implementation and which respect both national idiosyncrasies and EU-wide concerns? What can be learnt from current grid projects, test beds and R&D programmes?

How is Europe’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) progressing and is this the most effective way of managing infrastructure investments given their transnational nature? Will private investment really plug the quoted €60 billion funding gap, particularly given the recessionary environment? Are the envisaged mechanisms for recouping such investments, for instance via tariffs likely to deliver? What will future markets for both smart grid technologies and energy consumption look like?

On Standardisation and Grid Technologies: As with any new and emerging technologies and systems, the “proof of concept” stages are critical. These developments must at some stage however be accompanied by a commitment to common standards, delivering interoperability and flexibility, and therefore avoiding technology lock-in. This session will provide an update on standardisation for the grid and will look at the key technologies and sectors where work is underway

On Grid Stability and Security: Processes across the smart grid are dependent upon infrastructures and technologies based on advanced ICT. From industrial control systems, computer networks, intelligent devices, distributed control systems and home network hubs, a malicious attack on a system with such dependencies would be potentially catastrophic. Where is Europe in terms of securing the grid from cyber attack? What demands will the smart grid place on existing infrastructure and what preparations are required to ensure grid stability?

On Energy storage and large-scale renewables integration – what are the implications? The ability to store electricity produced from renewable energy sources will be key in the smart grid future. How is Europe ensuring that regions producing significant energy from such sources are connected to regions where appropriate storage is available? Will a smarter grid in fact mean that storage becomes progressively less important as energy management and efficiency increases? What will the regulatory and standardisation implications be as a result of innovative solutions such as Power-to-Gas? Finally, what are the market and competition challenges for energy storage providers in Europe?

The conference 2013 brought together stakeholders from both the energy and telecommunications sectors - inclusive of the policy-making communities - to debate the most pertinent issues relating to the EU-wide roll out of intelligent energy networks. With the successful convergence of these major infrastructure sectors dictating the successful delivery of the European smart grid, this conference will examined what needs to be done to achieve such cross-sector collaboration.