The electrical system is undergoing a profound change of state, which will lead to what is being called the smart grid. The necessity of a complex system approach to cope with ongoing changes is presented: combining a systemic approach based on complexity science with the classical views of electrical grids is important for an understanding the behavior of the future grid. Key issues like different layers and inter-layer devices, as well as subsystems are discussed and proposed as a base to create an agent-based system model to run simulations.
The electrical grid as a whole can be considered as a complex system (more properly a Complex Computer System) whose aim is to assure a reliable power supply to all its consumers. Only regarding the grid from a multi-disciplinary point of view can help us understand the behavior of these systems. Despite conceptual advances in concrete fields like chaos theory or emergence in non-linear or self-organized systems, which were studied in the last decades, a unified theory of complexity does not yet exist.
Complex networks have been studied by several scientists. Erdos and Renyi (1959) suggested the modeling of networks as random graphs. In a random graph (Bollobas, 1998), the nodes are connected by a placing a random number of links among them. This leads to a Poisson distribution when considering the numbers of connections of the nodes, thus there are many nodes with a similar number of links.