A Reference Architecture — Making the Grid Smart

Dassana Wijesekara
4 min readNov 21, 2021

Today’s traditional centralised energy provisioning model is rapidly moving towards a decentralised market model where energy production is moving from few large power plants to a large number of small power producers focused on renewables. The traditional model was focused on bulk generation, had less automation and very less situational awareness. Decentralised market model is looking at bi-directional energy and data flow where the consumers (becoming “Prosumers”) are actively participating in the system and becomes producers of both data and energy themselves.

In order to come up with an architecture we need to look at each modular components role in the eco system and identify ways of making them participants of the de-centralised architecture. Following diagram shows different links in the energy value chain.

The Smart Home

A connected home is one in which appliances and equipment can be controlled automatically and remotely. Typically using your home internet connection, ‘smart’ or ‘connected’ home devices can communicate with each other, or with cloud services, to automate many features of the home. It literally creates a Home Area Network (HAN). This can save energy and money, help to reduce impacts on the electricity grid, or make your life easier. Smart or connected devices can provide monitoring and data analytics to give you advice you can act on to optimise energy use and identify faulty or inefficient equipment.

Smart meters provide the Smart Grid interface between you and your energy provider. Installed in place of your old, mechanical meter, these meters operate digitally, and allow for automated and complex transfers of information between your home and your energy provider. For instance, smart meters will deliver signals from your energy provider that can help you cut your energy costs. Smart meters also provide utilities with greater information about how much electricity is being used throughout their service areas.

This energy information coming to and from your home through your smart meter can be run through a home energy management System (EMS), which will allow you to view it in an easy-to-understand format on your computer or hand-held device. A home EMS allows you to track your energy use in detail to better save energy. For instance, you can see the energy impact of various appliances and electronic products simply by monitoring your EMS while switching the devices on and off.

The Smart Meter — The Edge Gateway Architecture

Current Smart Meters have 5G connectivity and has reasonably higher computing power using modular system-on-a-chip-processors e.g : ARM Cortex M-3. Smart meter can play the role of an edge gateway and home appliance energy monitor. in order to enable this the smart meter should host following key components.

  1. Home energy management interface — This module provides a standardised interface for home energy management functions. It allows a dashboard or management console to be plugged in for managing HAN.
  2. Home appliance provision — This module handle home appliance life cycle management.
  3. Data interfaces — This module manages the standard interface which establish data exchange between devices and the meter. May perform data aggregation, enrichment and conversion functions.
  4. Transient data storage — This module provides a temporary data storage on chip where the data is stored temporarily for processing in a circular cache or a s a temporary cache for the fallback re-try mechanism when endpoints on the distributor are not reachable.

Following diagram shows the modular architecture at the edge.

Following diagram shows the modular architecture at the substation and energy distributor.

It’s important to have situational awareness and operational intelligence of the network as shown below.

Operational intelligence and situational awareness can be achieved by building a module which has following architectural components.

Following diagram shows layered distribution of different functions and its interoperability requirement across layers.

Smart Grid Architecture Model (SGAM), reproduced with permission. Copyright 2012, European Committee for Standardization (CEN).


  1. Australian government guide for sustainable homes — connected home
  2. The demand response model
  3. Open metering system programme in the Europe
  4. US Department of Energy — open smart energy gateway model



Dassana Wijesekara

Technology evangelist, enterprise software architect many years spent designing world class mission critical software. Pilot, artist, musician and photographer.