A “Smart-Grids for the Developing World” initiative would involve adapting smart meters for system-wide optimization in developing countries. This could be particularly interesting if it made local generation of power through solar PV or small wind energy more practical. A “smart transmission grid” delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control appliances at consumers' homes to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency. It would also overlay the electricity distribution grid with an information and net metering system.
Smart grids are considered necessary enablers of energy independence, reduction of global warming and emergency resilience issues. Smart meters may be part of a smart grid, but alone do not constitute a smart grid.
Smart grids generally include an intelligent monitoring system that keeps track of all electricity flowing in the system. These systems also often use superconductive transmission lines for less power loss, as well as the capability of integrating renewable electricity such as solar and wind. These integrated smart grid systems are considered essential for large-scale energy efficiency and Demand Side Management (DSM) programs as well.
USAID has worked with smart grid components and planning issues in India, Central Asia, the Baltic region and Southeast Europe. The Agency is also involved in procuring, installing and capacity building related to a smart grid for northern and eastern Afghanistan, linking this region to Central Asia's electricity system. USAID does not currently conduct any centralized or global research and development programs related to smart transmission grids.