Thursday, April 1, 2010

What are the benefits of IEC 61850?

If you ask different people you get various answers. Guess most experts agree that crucial benefits are: use of TCP/IP, Ethernet, Client/Server, and Layer 2 Publisher/Subscriber (GOOSE and Sampled Values), get rid of copper wires. What else? Information Models, System Configuration Language (SCL), retrieving the self-description of Information Models from IEDs, and ...

Another crucial benefit of IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 (IEC 61850 extensions for Wind Power Plants - defined in IEC TC 88) is that it is a GLOBALLY accepted STANDARD. Hmm, a standard is a standard! - So, what is special here?

If you implement client/server, GOOSE, and SV it is defined WHICH protocol you have to choose for each of the three: MMS, TCP/IP, ... for client/server, "GOOSE" for GOOSE, and "SV" for SV ... You don't have to choose between 40 or 50 solutions! See the international field bus standard IEC 61158: click HERE for a list of the 50+ field-bus-standards in a single standard.

You should ask (from time to time) this question: What would the situation in the domain of power utility protection, control and automation be WITHOUT IEC 61850? We would have a lot of very different vendor specific solutions, regional standards, utility standards, ... and may be a situation like in the field-bus domain!

"A technical standard is an established norm or requirement. It is usually a formal document that establishes UNIFORM engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices." (according to Wikipedia). This is what IEC 61850 provides: UNIFORM definitions to a high degree. The field-bus standard has TOO MANY NON-UNIFORM definitions.

It's a big benefit that we have prevented really an intoxicating proliferation of protocols and other definitions. We have even prevented two standards for utility communication: In 1998 IEC TC 57 and IEEE agreed to merge UCA 2.0 and IEC 61850 into ONE standard - a great decision! From a global viewpoint we have one situation where we have two standards: IEC 610870-5-101/104 and DNP3 ... this is definitely better than having 10 or more under one number ;-) 

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