Smart energy and smart grids

Grids have to add real-time data collection, communication, monitoring and control capabilities to troubleshoot outages; manage increasingly decentralized electricity production; add renewables and energy storage, while respecting tougher emission targets.

What is "smart energy"?

A largely electrified and automated world requires a continuous, reliable and sustainable supply of electricity. This is achieved through a grid that is able to gather information and communicate. Ideally it is built on standardized hardware, software and processes that ensure a seamless integration and interoperability. 



The integration of renewable energy sources allows to reduce Co2 emissions


Energy-efficient technologies help reduce overall electricity consumption


Greater efficiency in energy transmission and distribution reduces energy losses

solar panel

Integration of distributed energy sources (DERs), situated close to where they are consumed (on roof-tops, buildings, factories, etc.) complement  conventional electricity networks 

car electric

Storing energy in batteries at home or in electric vehicles can make optimal use of sun or wind power and augment decentralized electricity generation or deliver power back to the grid when needed

Why are smart grids needed?

  • To detect faults and respond to them in real time
  • Better manage network failures, power anomalies and blackouts
  • To automate key processes that can save costs and increase flexibility
  • To add intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar which can increase the strain on traditional grids
  • To provide more information and control of consumption to end-users
  • To manage energy storage which can help harness a maximum of energy when renewable energy sources are available (when the wind blows and the sun shines)
  • To intelligently manage multi-directional flow and avoid energy disruptions due to an increasing number of small, decentralized power generation, such as solar panels on the roof of a house or a small wind turbine
  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency

Modernizing and automating the grid

Electricity is the ultimate just-in-time product. It is used the moment it is generated and must be supplied continuously. Equipment is under extreme stress during periods of high electricity demand. Many of today's electricity grids were built in the 1960's, sometimes even before, and are reaching the end of their useful life. Grid modernization, using the latest technologies, is therefore a must. It also helps to improve energy efficiency and makes the generation, transmission and consumption of energy more sustainable.

Key technologies used for smart grids are sensors that measure the relevant parameters such as temperature, voltage and current; communications that allow a two-way dialogue with a device; control systems that enable a device to be reconfigured remotely; users-interface and decision support systems that provide an overview of asset status and perform advanced data analytics.

Standardized technologies for smarter grids

Several technical challenges have to be met, not least to make sure that already installed equipment and systems interoperate with new electronic equipment and processes.

Several IEC Technical Committees develop the standards that help grids improve their adaptability, allowing them to deal with multi-way power flows, integration of renewable energy sources and energy storage, and helping them become more cost-effective, safe, reliable, and flexible.

IEC TC 57 develops key standards for smart grid technologies and their integration with existing power grids. Many other IEC TCs contribute to smart grids with standards for sensors, intelligent switches, automated substations, or smart meters, to name but a few.

Such standards also serve as the basis for testing and certification of components, devices, and systems. IEC runs four Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems whose members verify that devices and sytems fulfill the requirements in IEC Standards and specifications.

IEC has set up a systems committee, SyC Smart Energy, to provide systems-level standardization for smart energy and smart grids.

The SyC helps identify all relevant standards and coordinates the work of the many technical committees involved in smart energy standardization.

IEC has published a smart grid standardization roadmap which provides guidelines to select the most appropriate set of standards and specifications.


Smart grids

Smart grid technologies allow the grid to become more flexible, interactive and enable it to provide real-time feedback.

Transmission and distribution technology

Transmitting and distributing electric power more efficiently and supplying it from renewable sources are ways of ensuring electricity requirements will continue to be met.

Cyber security in the smart grid

This paper was developed in the framework of the IEC Young Professionals (YP) Programme, whose core objective is to increase the involvement in IEC work of the next generation of IEC experts and leaders

Conformity assessment

IEC runs four global Conformity assessment systems which operate schemes and programmes based on third-party testing and certification.

Standardization and
Conformity assessment

Laboratories and certification bodies test and certify products, equipment, services and personnel competency against IEC International Standards.

The IECEE – Taking Conformity assessment further

This brochure gives an overview of the IECEE, its structure, and the categories of electrical equipment and testing services it covers.

Smart grids to transform power generation 

The world's growing population and the increasing use of renewable energies are posing unprecedented challenges for the conventional electricity grid. 


Renewable energy

This publication summarizes the international standards work carried out by TC 4, TC 82, TC 88 and TC 105 in the areas of water, sun, wind and fuel cells while providing an overview of the Advisory Committee on Environmental Aspects

Energy efficiency

The IEC defines energy efficiency as the ratio or other quantitative relationship between an output of performance, service goods or energy, and an input of energy.

Stable grid operations in a future of distributed electric power

This white paper explores the driving factors behind decentralized power generation. It also provides recommendations to industry leaders, policy makers and the IEC community.
More information

IEC is paving the way for these new technologies by developing and publishing a wide number of standards.

Electricity generating capacity is expanding to meet growing worldwide demand.

Renewable energies represent a fast-growing percentage of electricity generation.

Nuclear power plants (NPPs) produce an important proportion of the world's electricity. 

Storing energy is becoming ever more important as our demand for electricity increases.

IEC is forging a path for this global transformation with the required international standards.

Distributed energy resources are a way of increasing energy efficiency and improving grid resilience.

Getting clean and modern electricity to those who need it the most with the help of the IEC.

One of the most important ways of helping us to save energy is by implementing energy efficiency measures.

Renewable energy generates direct current and we use direct current in our homes to power many of our devices, from LED lights to mobile phones.

IEC publications help them to meet the various technical challenges they unavoidably face moving forward.