The Emergence of Smart-Grid Policies

In order to meet the growing electricity demand and improve the stability, reliability and resilience of electric grids, two-way digital communication and computer processing technologies have been increasingly used in electricity networks. This greatly enables energy efficiency improvements and the integration of alternative energy sources in electricity generation, transmission and distribution systems. The Smart Grid vision proposed by many governments and business entities has triggered a broad range of research, development and demonstration projects that aim to facilitate grid modernization. Like many other technological breakthroughs, the recent development of smart-grid technologies has come the emergence of new smart-grid policies. The successful implementation of these policies is essential to address barriers to smart-grid deployment and to meet new challenges in the 21st century, such as climate change, energy security, data and privacy protection and equity concerns.

 Diagram of the components that make up a smart grid and how they are interconnected.

To better understand the policy context of smart grids, the Climate & Energy Policy Lab (CEPL) has examined major barriers and drivers to smart grids deployment, and reviewed experiences with smart grids policies in pioneer countries across the globe, including the U.S., the European Union, Japan, Korea and China. (See "Policy Issues in Sustainable Smart Grids" by Brown and Zhou in the forthcoming Springer Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology -- Miroslav M. Begovic, Section Editor.)


  • EAC Smart Grid Subcommittee. 2015. Grid Modernization: ARRA Accomplishments and Recommendations for Moving Forward. November,
  • Brown, Marilyn A. 2014. “Enhancing Efficiency and Renewables With Smart Grid Technologies and Policies,” Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning and Futures Studies, 58: 21-33.
  • Brown, Marilyn A. and Shan Zhou. 2012 and 2014 (2nd edition). "Sustainable Smart Grids: Emergence of a Policy Framework," Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology (Robert A. Meyers, ed.), Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
  • Brown, Marilyn A. and Shan Zhou. 2013. "Smart-Grid Policies: An International Review," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs): Energy and Environment, Vol. 2 (March/April): 121-139.
  • Presentation at China-US Workshop on Environmental Protection and Urban Sustainable Development - Tianjin University: Emergence of Policies to Promote Smart Grid Urban Infrastructure