Thursday, January 27, 2011

NettedAutomation and Kinectricts offer IEC 61850 training in USA and Canada (May/June 2011)

Kinectrics and NettedAutomation will be running two IEC 61850 Seminar/Hands-on Training:

  1. Toronto, Canada  - Week of May 9th, 2011 at Kinectrics IEC 61850 labs
  2. Cincinnati, Ohio – Week of June 20th, 2011 in their U.S. Facility

To inquire more about the May and June Hands-on training sessions, email, Cherie Ferrari, Manager of Training at

These will be presented with expert Karlheinz Schwarz, leader in 61850 technology and applications and featuring the BECK chip – 61850 on a chip. He will be assisted by Dr. Jian-Cheng (J.C.) Tan, Kinectrics expert in IEC 61850 Interoperability of Multi-vendor Devices and Systems.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What are Client/Server and Publisher/Subscriber in IEC 61850?

The terms Client/Server (C/S) and Publisher/Subscriber (P/S) in IEC 61850 are describing (communication) roles a real device may have. A device can play any of the four roles - even at the same time.

From an information flow point of view (independent of C/S and P/S) there are different levels of relations: (#1) the Application Layer Protocol or communication view (see first slide); (#2) the system view as seen from an IEC 61850-6 (SCL - System Configuration Language) point of view (see second slide).

(#1) First slide: A server exposes the Data (in a LD/LN) that can be accessed by the client over a TCP/IP connection - may be over Ethernet. Or the client will receive event-driven reports from the server over TCP/IP (Ethernet). This is a 1:1 connection at protocol level. A server may communicate with many clients (one TCP/IP connection between each client and server). The connection is opened by the client. Note: a real device could play both roles - in MMS an association (connection) allows both devices to play both roles (this is not yet used in IEC 61850)!

The slide also shows the publisher and subscriber. The publisher sends multicast messages that are picked-up by subscribers. The subscriber is (at communication level) NOT subscribing to the subscriber. The message is just sent and any device that has a subscriber role picks-up the messages it wants to receive. Each multicast message has an identification (let's say number 277). The publisher does NOT know who is receiving the messages. This is like picking-up a newspaper at the red traffic light in the morning. You may also subscribe to the publishing house to get the newspaper delivered to your home every morning - this is the real publishing/subscribing).


A device that has a Server can model Data (in LD/LN), e.g. status of a cirsuit breaker. This Data can be used for publishing values (by a DataSet and a Control block). Strictly speaking: a Publisher does not expose a data model. This is done by a server. The publishing service makes use of a server (explicitly or implicitly). Explicitly means: data - dataset - control block - message. Implicitly means: message - you don't see the model; it may be defined in SCL only.

(#2) From a SCL (system) point of view we can model the flow of information from a source (right), through a server/publisher, message, client/server, ... to a sink (see next slide). In SCL we are describing the information exchange between a Data in logical nodes - clients/servers are not in the main focus. SCL provides - in my words - the wiring plan of a whole system (from a source to a sink).


The services defined in IEC 61850 ACSI are listed in the third slide:


The last slide shows that clients and servers can be cascaded ... this is outside the protocols - but can be specified with SCL! SCL is a VERY powerful specification language!!


Examples of these cascaded relations are presented and discussed during the hands-on training courses of NettedAutomation ... and much more.

Summary: each device implementing all four roles defined in IEC 61850 can communicate with each other device as a client, server, publisher, and subscriber.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Experts of the USE61400-25 Users Group for IEC 61400-25 met in Fredericia (Denmark)

Many experts of he Wind Power Users Group "USE61400-25" for IEC 61400-25 (IEC 61850) met in Fredericia (Denmark) on Monday (2011-01-17) to report and discuss experiences with the application of IEC 61400-25/61850 for Wind Turbines. 28 experts (!) from 

ABB, AREVA Wind, Bachmann Electronic, DONG Energy
ENERCON, Ingeteam Technology, KEMA, Kenersys,
Mita-Teknik, Natcon7, NettedAutomation,
RE Power Systems AG, Siemens Wind Power,
Vattenfall, Vestas

met and shared the very positive experiences with the standards ... and discussed issues that need modifications and corrections.

Most of these experts met with IEC TC 57 WG 17 (DER) on Tuesday (2011-01-18): 39 people had been in the meeting on Tuesday to share their experiences on Wind Power and DER. WG 17 met until 2011-01-21.

What does "IEC 61850 Lite" mean?

IEC 61850 is a suite of standards. Implementations usually provide a subset of the various aspects of the many parts (IEC 61850-7-2, 7-3, 7-4, 8-1, 6, ...). There is a document in IEC 61850-7-2 that is used to list the service models and services supported by an implementation (PICS - Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement). The PICS give a good overview about the communication services.

There have been several discussions on specifying a minimum list of these PICS and name it "IEC 61850 Lite". Currently I do not see if there will ever be such a specification, because we have a variety of markets that would need different "Lite" specs. Most programmers (I have talked to the recent years) that want to integrate IEC 61850 software into their application are looking for a "lite" API (Application Program Interface) - for an easy and fast integration into their applications.

This was one of the crucial ideas SystemCorp (Perth, Western Australia, had when they started to implement a "lite" implementation. "Lite" means a - more or less - FULL set of services BUT an easy to use API accompanied by a SCL Design tool that supports designing ICD/CID documents that can directly be used to configure the information model and bind the model to the application program. The resulted easy to use package has gained a huge interest in the marked all over.

The crucial issue is to help people to get started within hours and days - not weeks and months. There is a evaluation package available that can be used on Windows. This package comes with a DLL (IEC 61850 software) and a server application (including C source code of application) and two client applications (including C and C# source code of application). You can run the evaluation right away - it is useable for 6 months.

Here is the link to find more details and how to get the kit:

The feedback from several of the more than 1,000 users of the evaluation kits shows that this seems to be a "lite" solution many had been looking for. The software runs on other platforms as well.

One interesting platform is the Beck IEC61850@CHIP - to get a very "lite" implementation:

I will be at the DistribuTech 2011 (San Diego, Febr 01-03) at booth 2822. Here you can see what a specific "Lite implementation" looks like. Come by for a visit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

IEC 61850 in the Backbone of Smart Distribution

Symposium in Darmstadt (Germany), 12th -14th April 2011

"Novel Information and Communication technologies as the back bone for Smart Distribution" has the task to bring together the 12 project teams for
a public exchange of experience and to consider solutions and results.

Objective of the Symposium: Exchange of experience between the European and German lighthouse projects.

  • Information of the public, of vendors, grid operators and other stakeholders of the energy market, of universities and research institutes about the running lighthouse projects.
  • Discussion of the broad dissemination of the project
    results and how to overcome the existing barriers.

Some key presentations will be on the implementation and application of IEC 61850.

Click HERE for the full program [pdf]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Applications of IEC 61850 in Europe and all over

The year 2011 started with some questions I received from an employee of a big distribution company:

  1. How is the implementation of IEC 61850 here in Europe especially in German Utility Company?
  2. Are there lots of substation using this IEC 61850?
  3. Are there lots of success stories from utility companies around the world using this IEC 61850? 
  4. Will the standard IEC 61850 do lots of revisions (editions) again in the years to come?

Here is my answer [slightly revised]:

I am happy to assist you in the domain of a very new standard composed of some quite "old" standards. The various components of IEC 61850 are:

  • Ethernet -> some 30 years old
  • TCP/IP   -> some 30 years old
  • MMS      -> some 25 years old
  • XML       -> some 15 years old
  • Information Modeling -> some 25 years old

The crucial new thing is, that we have composed a comprehensive standard with many different aspects ... building a SYSTEM. This is more than a new communication protocol ...

Ok, here are my answers to your specific questions:

1. How is the implementation of IEC 61850 here in Europe especially in German Utility Company?

IEC 61850 is used in many utilities and many production sites like power plants, petrochemical plants, factories, ... usually turnkey substation automation systems from one vendor.
There is no question to use it or not - if there is a question then it is this issue: How to specify what utilities want and how to use the standards (in some details).

2. Are there lots of substation using this IEC 61850?

Yes, the figures I have: more than 3000 worldwide.
I have a list of SICAM PAS-projects with IEC 61850. They list 433 projects with IEC 61850 (updated October 2010).

3. Are there lots of success stories from utility companies around the world using this IEC 61850? 

Yes. Most stories are very positive. There are mainly issues with the question: What do utilities expect??!?
Utilities have to get more deeply involved in the specification of the requirements. Or they may get something they did not expect ... too much or too less ...
I have been invited many times to help utility engineers to understand what their company has ordered and what was commissioned. Often the engineers have no clue what they got - even after the substation automation systems were in operation!!
IEC 61850 is not IEC 61850 !!
In order to get what your utility want, your utility has to understand the big impact of IEC 61850 on almost everything !!! Then the people have to tell the vendor/system integrator what they want AND what they DO NOT what!!
This requires well educated utility experts ... that is usually the problem.

4. Will the standard IEC 61850 do lots of revisions (editions) again in the years to come?

No! There is little impact from new documents to be expected - the base technology is very stable, tested and in operation.

I highly recommend to you and your utility to receive education - this is the most crucial issue today!

The recent Newton-Evans study figured out:

"Utility manpower shortages continue to negatively impact the ability of technology supplier companies to engage utilities for other than short-term requirements. However, third party engineering and integration service firms have recently made significant strides in winning substation automation-related business, from planning to design to construction and installation."

Click HERE for the news report on the study.

This is exactly what I have learned for years: There is a lack of smart people to deal with the future technologies in power systems. So, we have to wait until the next generation of engineers arrives: people that will use what is advanced and available and that can be downloaded from the Web ... like the IEC 61850 Windows DLL evaluation Kit to get first results within hours ...

Click HERE for the IEC 61850 Windows DLL.
Click HERE for some discussion on the education of utility experts.

Growth of Substation Automation with IEC 61850

There seems to be an ongoing interest in doing market studies in order to figure out what will be the technologies applied in power system automation in the next years or decades. One of the latest is the following report:

"The World Market for Substation Automation and Integration Programs in Electric Utilities: 2011-2013." by Newton-Evans Research Company

Click HERE for a brief news information found on the Newton-Evans website.
Click HERE for some details from the report from Business Wire.

The number of systems installed in the electrical power delivery systems is much bigger than what these kind of studies show. The news reports: "Respondents indicated a total of 1,567 transmission substations and 5,154 distribution substations in operation as of the 4th quarter of 2010. These represent a 9% sample of U.S. and Canadian combined totals of transmission voltage substations and nearly 10% of all distribution voltage substations."

The power market is a global market - the potential market for IEC 61850 is global as well! The numbers of applications is in the Millions! Check what Enel reported during the recent first European IEEE Smart Grid conference in Gothenburg (Sweden): Enel owns over 0.4 MILLION MV/LV Substations! HV and MV network are remotely operated, more than 0.1 MILLION MV substations remote controlled ... There is a potential of 0.3 MILLION LV substations where IEC 61850 one way or the other may be used in the next decade.

One of Enel's project deals with even more potential use cases of IEC 61850:

Active Control of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) connected to the Medium Voltage network: The project will deal with:

  • Realizing an advanced control system
  • Implementing an “always on” and standard-based communication solution connecting all the relevant nodes in the network, including DER locations.
  • Implementing Voltage Control (at all nodes) and Power Flow Control in the MV network.

Click HERE for the complete presentation by Enel.

Take, for example, the number of PV inverter manufactured monthly by one vendor: SMA (Germany):

"On the reporting date, SMA had a maximum annual production capacity of approx. 11 GW worldwide. This corresponds to a doubling in annual production capacity in comparison to the end of 2009. Owing to the better availability of electronic components, SMA was able to utilize almost fully its existing production capacities in the third quarter of 2010 with an inverter output sold of nearly 2.6 GW. In the first nine months, SMA sold inverter output of 5,738 MW in total" ... I guess this means some 500.000 PV Inverters from one manufacturer (assuming average inverter of 20 kW) !!

Click HERE for the SMA news report.

Taking the monitoring, control and automation needs reported by Enel (above) into account means: there is a potential global market of MILLIONS of devices per year that need "standard-based communication". IEC 61850 has almost everything needed.

In this light we have to look at what Newton-Evans figured out:

"Of 5,154 distribution substations in operation at participating utilities, nearly 36% were reported to be without any automation. Just over one-half (52%) of these distribution substations were classified as Stage 1 sites (having some IEDs, RTUs, and two-way communications). About 12% were reported to be “fully automated.”"

When we talk about "standard-based communication", we have to use a wide-angle lens - not a zoom lens to focus on some substations in the U.S. There are definitely a lot more of opportunities globally!

There is a bright future for IEC 61850!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

IEC 61850 Training Opportunities in 2011

We hope you had a smooth start into 2011. This year we will see a lot more applications of IEC 61850 on all voltage levels: high, medium and low voltage.

NettedAutomation has trained more than 2,200 experts from more than 500 companies and more than 60 countries. Thanks to all that have chosen these services.

Please find the updated list of opportunities for public events in 2011:

Sydney (Australia), 07.-09. March 2011
2 day IEC 61850 Training by 5 Gurus


Frankfurt (Germany)
3 day IEC 61850/61400-25 Seminar/Hands-on Training (NettedAutomation) with Measurement IED and several demo software (fully functional)

04.-06. May 2011
14.-16. September 2011

Nashville (TN, USA), Remote Conference, 20.-21. September 2011
2 day Seminar (NettedAutomation) on Power System Communication covering IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, DNP3, NIST Interoperability Roadmap, Smart Grids, ...

Details (preliminary)

Note that most training courses are conducted as in-house events - the most effective way to get what you need.