From the grid to the smart grid, topologically

Giuliano Andrea Pagani*, Marco Aiello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


In its more visionary acceptation, the smart grid is a model of energy management in which the users are engaged in producing energy as well as consuming it, while having information systems fully aware of the energy demand-response of the network and of dynamically varying prices. A natural question is then: to make the smart grid a reality will the distribution grid have to be upgraded? We assume a positive answer to the question and we consider the lower layers of medium and low voltage to be the most affected by the change. In our previous work, we analyzed samples of the Dutch distribution grid (Pagani and Aiello, 2011) and we considered possible evolutions of these using synthetic topologies modeled after studies of complex systems in other technological domains (Pagani and Aiello, 2014). In this paper, we take an extra important step by defining a methodology for evolving any existing physical power grid to a good smart grid model, thus laying the foundations for a decision support system for utilities and governmental organizations. In doing so, we consider several possible evolution strategies and apply them to the Dutch distribution grid. We show how increasing connectivity is beneficial in realizing more efficient and reliable networks. Our proposal is topological in nature, enhanced with economic considerations of the costs of such evolutions in terms of cabling expenses and economic benefits of evolving the grid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-175
Number of pages16
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Complex network analysis
  • Decision support systems
  • Distribution grid
  • Power grid
  • Smart grid


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