Connectivity for smart grids: Novel communications solutions in evolving electrical grids

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Increasing electrification and power grid evolution to allow integrating large amounts of renewable generation will be key enablers for creating a sustainable, carbon-neutral energy system. The expected increased demand for electricity will result from efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels in the industry, heating, and transport sectors. The larger share of intermittent generation from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, as well as the decreasing number of traditional controllable inertia-providing generators will lead to higher system volatility. This volatility challenge is worsened by the lack of seasonal system-level electric energy storage capacity. In distribution grids, the volatility challenge and increased power system dynamics will necessitate expanded automation, which in turn will require enhanced connectivity solutions. This thesis contributes first by taking a forward-looking, system-level view in exploring possible power grid futures and then by identifying approaches for integrating electric power grids with Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in these futures. The overall research problem of the thesis is defined as follows: How can communications solutions support the creation of sustainable resilient power grids by the 2030s? The research extensively utilises expert panels, formal scenario planning and value networks based on the Finnish power grid context as a case example. The thesis proceeds in three stages. The thesis first establishes multiple scenarios, i.e. possible power grid futures. These describe the potential evolution from the perspective of grid management and the services offered to customers. Thereafter, in the second stage, the thesis explores the role of both the latest as well as anticipated new communication technologies, the feasibility of applying these in future distribution grids, and the potential impact of softwarisation on power grid architectures. The more extensive use of ICT gives rise to new attack points for malicious actors and consequently increases the vulnerability of the electric energy system. The thesis continues by identifying the most significant cybersecurity risks and trends, followed by an examination of how well these risks and trends are currently analysed and understood in academia and industry. In the third stage, the thesis shifts the focus to the business level. The opportunities for various actors are explored by identifying the potential industry (business) architectures for the communications solutions required to manage future distribution grids. The results of this thesis should help stakeholders, such as actors within the energy and ICT sectors as well as regulators and politicians, to consider alternative futures in order to make correct decisions on which businesses to be in, how to invest until the 2030s, as well as how to ensure the reliability and cost efficiency of the electric power system.
Translated title of the contributionÄlysähköverkkojen konnektiviteetti: Tulevaisuuden jakeluverkkojen kommunikaatioratkaisut
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Mähönen, Petri, Supervising Professor
  • Lehtonen, Matti, Thesis Advisor
  • Costa Requena, Jose, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-1726-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-1727-1
Publication statusPublished - 2024
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • power grids
  • distribution grids
  • smart grids
  • communications
  • mobile communications
  • cloud computing
  • industry architectures
  • scenario planning
  • value networks
  • Delphi survey


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