Grid represents the future of the existing power grid. A SG system is a less
centralized and more interactive version of the current grid system. In such a
system, a communication network is integrated within the power grid to collect
real time information that can be used to locate power failures, re-route
electricity, reduce power consumption among other numerous advantages.

Owing to this, there
has been a substantial interest in the design, development and implementation
of an efficient network connecting various sections of the Smart Grid. Smart
Grid Networks are large scale with limited node capabilities which make them
unique networks that present various challenges in routing. A Smart Grid
communications network consists of different constituents such as Home Area
Networks or HAN’s, Neighborhood Area Networks or NAN’s and Wide Area Network or
WAN’s. This paper provides a survey of the various challenges faced while
designing such a Smart Grid network and analyzes the advantages and
disadvantages of the routing protocols proposed to address these challenges.
This paper hopes to provide comprehension to beginners who would like to seek
routing related research opportunities in the Smart Grid domain.

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Terms—Smart Grid, Networking HANs, NANs, WANs.

I. Introduction

One of the key components of our daily life is the
electrical power system. Presently though, this electrical power grid has
numerous concerns that have to be fixed. In the last 10 years, more voltage
drops, overloads and blackouts have occurred than the last 4 decades. More
often than not, the reason behind these problems are slow responding devices
over the grid. Not only has population and hence the number of devices in
customer’s houses and buildings increased, there has been no significant improvement
to the current grid system. The current grid system is not only old, but it has
also worn out. This addition of appliances to an old and worn out power grid only
makes it more unstable. To make it worst, the current electrical grid wins no
favor when it comes to carbon emissions. The U.S.’ power system contributes for
around 40% of the total carbon emission of the country 1. Modifications to
such an imbalanced and incompetent power system is must for both economical and
environment reasons. The grid should be reliable, controllable and scalable
along with being interoperable, secure and economical. Such a grid is widely
regarded as a Smart Grid.

Two main impetuses to push towards Smarty Grid are 1) the
maturing, deficient, and obsolete power grid which has to be enhanced to take
care without bounds, the forthcoming demands and challenges, 2) the advantages
of the Smart Grid in result of the upgrades in six key esteem zones: unwavering
quality, financial aspects, productivity, environmental, security, and safety. Smart
Grid ought to be planned and actualized so as to boost the system’s throughput and
to diminish utilization of the system. In addition, Smart Grid communication
has to be real-time, reliable, adaptable, reasonable, and extensible, along
with being interoperable, secure, and economical. Smart Grids can provide
energy feedback paired with real-time cost data to better energy usage levels.
Smart Grids can also provide real-time requirements and administration strategies
to lower peak demand and total load via device control.

One of the most crucial aspect behind the motivation for
the Smart Grid is the ability to incorporate innate two-way communication
between different parts of the power system, sensors and control technologies
into the electrical grid system. A telecommunication network like The Internet
routes data packets whereas the power grid routes electrical power. So, a Smart
Grid architecture has to embody both telecommunication and power facets in its
implementation. For example, utilities can gather, measure and break down
energy utilization data using Advanced Metering Infrastructure. Power loads and
hence the costs can be regulated by Demand Response using the Advanced Metering

Because of these changes, the accompanying advantages are projected:

1) a decline in the frequency and duration of blackouts

2) a diminishment
in the quantity of interruptions because of power quality issues

3) bring down power cost

4) bring down operation and maintenance expenses

5) better resource usage

6) bring down CO2
emissions because of the increase in number of electric vehicles

7) an expansion
in physical security and digital security in the entire electrical grid systems

8) an increment in the protection from electricity hazards.

Even though there is an expanding attention for
recognizing the parts of the Smart Grid and conceivable applications, we are
still to illustrate particular research challenges at every protocol layer. To
enable network interconnectivity between HANs, NANs and WANs, multiple significant
questions must be answered. For example, Smart Grid will be made up of multiple
networks which will be interconnected with each other and almost all of these
networks will have a diverse set of core technologies, proprietorship and administration.
The Smart Grid will be needed to be reliable and accessible as well as be
capable to protect private data like amount of power consumption of every

In this paper, various
challenges faced while designing such a Smart Grid network and analysis of the
advantages and disadvantages of the routing protocols proposed to address these
challenges is discussed. The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section
II discusses the background of the Smart Grid, Section III discusses the
applications of Smart Grids and the challenges for Smart Grid communications,
Section IV elaborates the communication and networking architecture of the
Smart Grid and Section V provides a few concluding observations.

II. Background

The power grids of today produce and dispense electricity
using three tiered and definite subsystems, which are production, transmission
and delivery. Firstly, power generation plants produce electricity from
different resources. Step up transformers are used to convert this generated
electricity at a high voltage which is suitable for long distance transmission
at the transmission substations. Once this electricity reaches the distribution
substations, it is stepped-down to medium voltage and transmitted to the end
users over the grid. Finally, the medium voltage is changed to low voltage by
again stepping down. This straightforward movement of electricity in the power
grid has not been altered for slightly more than a hundred years.

The electric grid used to be nothing but a collection of few
remote power plants. This has been converted into interconnected grids. The
present electric transmission grids provide several unneeded alternate paths
for electric flow by being interconnected into regional or national power
grids. These paths are used as alternate routes in case of uneven supply and
demand, or in case of generation plants/ transmission line failures.  

Electricity distribution is done centrally, via a control
center that has the duty of governing several regions from a central location.
The control center uses Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)
system. SCADA is a computer-based monitoring and control system. SCADA systems measure,
supervise and regulate the components of the power grid. For this, they have
several electronic monitoring and/or control devices. They also have various
automation equipment. SCADA systems, which later grew onto the Energy
Management System (EMS), first came into existence after the major blackout in
1965. To assist the EMS by gathering real-time data, Remote Terminal Units
(RTU) are deployed at transmission and distribution substations. And so, the
production and distribution parts of the present power grid are rather “smart”,
but the control centers still don’t have enough automation. Since the 90’s,
some real-time monitoring capabilities have been introduced to assist with
distribution. Some examples of these works are the AMR and AMI applications.
But these technologies are not yet widely implemented on the power grid and are
restricted locally.

In today’s grids, the methods of power storage are highly
inefficient. This forces the supply to keep up with the demand, resulting in a
constraint without a moment to spare. Hence, the entire operation of the power
grid is inept. Also, the request variations strain the maturing and obsolete
framework of the power network amid the pinnacle request hours and consequently
posture dependability, accessibility, and power quality issues. The present
power production, owing to its dependence on non-renewable sources of energy
has environmental and asset shortage issues. Toxic gases are emitted by not
only vehicles but also during the production of electricity.  These factors lead to the need of a smarter
grid so as to make the power grid more dependable, cost-effective, effective, eco-friendly,
secure and safe.

In general, the Smart Grid is a power grid that introduces
a two-way dialogue where electricity and information is exchanged between
utility and its customers.

Smart Grid may have emerged from the current power grid,
but it has a wide variety of different features and requirements which must be
met. The integrated requirements of a preferred Smart Grid are:

1) AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure): AMI helps
customers become informed participants by informing them the real-time prices
of power and augment power usage appropriately. Owing to this, consumers can
now pick diverse acquiring patterns based on not only their individual needs,
but also the Grid’s demand. This can greatly ensure the reliability of the
electric power system. ?

2) Wide Area Situational Awareness: WASA is envisioned
to observe and manage all the sections of the electric power system. For
example, network routes can be modified to avoid a damaged path.

3) IT Network Integration: The Smart Grid will have power
grids integrated with IT networks. ?

4)  Interoperability: The Smart Grid is envisioned to
have the ability of multiple systems, frameworks, gadgets, applications, or
parts to trade and promptly utilize data safely, successfully, and with almost
no bother to the client. The Smart Grid will be an arrangement of interoperable
systems. That is, diverse frameworks will have the capacity to trade important,
noteworthy data. The systems will share a typical significance of the traded
data, and this data will inspire heaps of reactions. The unwavering quality,
constancy, and security of data trades among Smart Grid systems must accomplish
imperative execution levels 2.

5)  Demand Response and Consumer Efficiency: Utilities
and clients will cut their utilization amid peak hours of energy request.
Systems will likewise be made for customers to shrewdly utilize their gadgets
to bring down their cost 2.

 So, we can presume
that Smart Grid will have the qualities of being more effective, solid, smart,
and so forth. There are many difficulties and regarding communications in Smart
Grid. Basically, there is a push to make the power production and utilization
more adaptable, to permit dynamic costs, the accumulation of power from small,
reusable power generators, et cetera. To execute this, the electric grid should
be upgraded with communication and calculation devices. In addition, with coordinating
data systems into the present power network framework will come numerous
security and protection issues which must be tended to. Clear vulnerabilities
are presented by IT systems. For instance, programmers can take clients’ power
with no traces being left in their metering devices.