Smart energy and smart grids

Ways of generating, transmitting and delivering energy to where we need it are mutating: smart technologies are used to save electrical energy and transmit it more efficiently to end-users

Standardizing technology that paves the way for smart energy

Several IEC technical committees develop international standards relevant to smart energy and smart grids. IEC has set up a systems committee, SyC Smart Energy, to provide systems-level standardization in that area.

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


What makes energy smart?


To reduce Co2 emissions, the generation of electrical energy is increasingly reliant on renewable energy sources.


In our increasingly smart cities, energy-efficient technologies are introduced to reduce our overall consumption as well as manage interactions with heat and gas.


The transmission and distribution network is modernizing to accommodate higher demand as well as to become more energy efficient.

solar panel

Distributed energy sources (DERs), situated close to where they are consumed, are complementing the conventional network and are being integrated into the electrical grid.

car electric

New ways of storing energy are equally emerging, such as using the battery power of electric vehicles (EVs) plugged into the grid.

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.

Why smarter grids are needed:

  • Intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar increase the strain on existing grids. Energy storage is needed to harness a maximum of energy when these sources are available (when the wind blows and the sun shines). Combined with other electricity sources such as hydro or nuclear this ensures a continuous flow of electricity.
  • Increasingly, planned central power generation is complemented by small, decentralized power generation, such as solar panels on the roof of a house or a small wind turbine. This decentralized generation needs to be intelligently managed as excess energy is generally fed back into the grid where it could cause disruptions.
  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency levels.
  • To provide more information and control of consumption to end-users.
  • To automate key processes that can save costs.

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.

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 which verify that a product or other device fulfills the requirements in IEC Standards and specifications.

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.