In order to reach the target of reducing green house gas emission, technologies such as renewable energy sources (RES) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) have to be widely adopted. This was confirmed at policy level, e.g. when major leaders from all over the world met for the 2009 summit on climate change, once in New York and later in Copenhagen. A clear signal was sent to public that the traditional manner of energy consumption and economic growth needs to be changed fundamentally in the near future. For the sake of better accommodating intermittent generators and flexible loads, the transmission and distribution network of the current electric power system will have to be adapted toward the next generation electricity infrastructure, namely the Smart Grid, with the capability of real-time pricing, dispatching and management of demand-side response. The definition of the smart grid refers to a modernization of the electricity delivery system that monitors, protects and automatically optimizes the operation of its interconnected elements – from the central and distributed generator through the high-voltage network and distribution system, to industrial users and building automation systems, to energy storage installations and to end-use consumers and their thermostats, electric vehicles, appliances and other household devices. The smart grid will be characterized by a two-way flow of electricity and information to create an automated, widely distributed energy delivery network. It incorporates into the grid the benefits of distributed computing and communications to deliver real-time information and enable the near- instantaneous balance of supply and demand at the device level.
Due to the architectural complexity and intensive interactions of the different stakeholders of smart grids, including generation, transmission, distribution, operation, markets, customer and services, a systematic synthesis and coordinated methodology will be the core of designing and deploying any smart grid paradigm. Moreover, how to ensure the stability and integrity of the proposed critical infrastructure, while facilitating its penetration through the existing utilities with financial incentives is becoming another key question during the process of fundamental evolvement to the next generation electric power infrastructure. Both of these issues are commonly recognized as prioritized problems to be solved in smart grid development. Our research, addressed in the publications listed below, takes advantages of the multi-agent systems as the basic solution of modeling the structure and behaviors of various smart grid components, and proposes their corresponding agent models. Furthermore, an innovative mechanism based on the foreseen real-time spot market of electric energy is also devised, which promotes the substantiation of the economic and social potentials of smart grids. Simulations results indicate that our methodology and mechanism are capable and sufficient to solve specific smart grid problems.