Smart Grid in America and Europe: Similar Desires, Different Approaches (Part 1)

Public Utilities Fortnightly, Vol. 149, No. 1, January 1, 2011

5 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2011

See all articles by Zhen Zhang

Zhen Zhang

California Public Utilities Commission

Date Written: January 1, 2011


Smart grid fever is heating up the world, from west to east, from the United States to China, and many places in between. The governments of the European Union (E.U.) and the United States (U.S.) have the most comprehensive and aggressive smart grid implementation programs. A comparison of the overall efforts of the two governments indicates a similar understanding of the smart grid definition, but differing smart grid deployment approaches. The European Commission has focused more on setting goals and developing plans and strategies instead of creating a comprehensive legislative framework. While the U.S. has developed slightly more legislation compared to the E.U., it has focused more on implementing research and development projects via stimulus funds. Given their different approaches, it is therefore unsurprising that with respects to specific topics the E.U. and the U.S. generally have different levels of focus. On one hand, both the E.U. and the U.S. agree that smart meter deployment is a basic requirement of the smart grid, and both are meeting similar challenges like consumer dissatisfaction and privacy concerns. On the other hand, the E.U. has focused on distributed generation and microgrids and the U.S. has focused on creating standards for interoperability and security. The technical aspects also require policy compliments and there is a serious need to address in depth three policy issues: public education, cost recovery of smart grid components, and the labor shortage facing the electric industry in both the E.U. and the U.S. The research and policy topics discussed in this paper are selected due to their long-term importance and the public’s current interests. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of smart grid deployment efforts worldwide. Due to the multifaceted nature of smart grid deployment the two governments face many more challenges in the days to come.

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Zhen, Smart Grid in America and Europe: Similar Desires, Different Approaches (Part 1) (January 1, 2011). Public Utilities Fortnightly, Vol. 149, No. 1, January 1, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Zhen Zhang (Contact Author)

California Public Utilities Commission ( email )

505 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics