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The quest for sustainable energy models is the main factor driving research on smart grid technology. SGs represent the bridging paradigm to enable highly efficient energy production, transport, and consumption along the whole chain, from the source to the user. Although this concept promises to be very fruitful, the research on how to deploy it in the real world has just begun. A discussion on the enabling technologies for SGs and a possible roadmap for the profitable evolution thereof is the focus of this article. After introducing the recent trends that are pushing the SG paradigm, we will discuss various key scenarios for the SG, and briefly introduce some of its key requirements. We will then provide an analysis of how current and future standard solutions in the areas of communications and networking can be engineered into a system that fulfills the needs of the SG vision. We advocate the use of small, cheap, and resource-constrained devices with pervasive computing capabilities as the key component to deploy a ubiquitous energy control system. To this end, the recent efforts carried out by Internet standardization bodies such as the IETF and W3C toward the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) are especially relevant. The various components of the proposed solution have been successfully showcased in real-world implementations, and relevant actors such as ETSI, ZigBee, and IPSO are already evaluating their potential for future IoT applications, making the Internet-based smart grid vision considered in this article practically achievable in the not too distant future.
Date of Publication: July-August 2012