Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hannover (Germany) Black Out Caused by Aging Infrastructure

Some 600,000 people of the city of Hannover (Northern Germany) were hit by a blackout (up to 81 minutes) on July 13, 2011.

First a power plant was tripped due to some internal problems. Then it was expected that a 220 kV / 110 kV transformer substation would transform more power from the 220 kV network into the 110 kV network – this would have balanced the load in the city and provided power from outside.

The transformer was protected by protection functions that prevent overloading (overheating) the transformer – in order to not damage the transformer windings by too high temperatures … Due to the increase of power flow after the power plant outage in the city, the protection tripped, because it decided that the flow was above the configured limit. The limit was correctly set – but a capacitor (worth a few Euro) was defect and the result was that the protection tripped the circuit breaker even at a current below the configured limit! It would be interesting to know how old the protection relay was.

Due to the aging of the hardware (capacitor) it happened in Hannover recently. What city or region will be next hit by the aging infrastructure of our electrical delivery system?

More to come.

More maintenance (as decided by the utility in Hannover) is not an anti-aging means – refurbishment of aged components of the infrastructures may help … but costs a lot of money.

Click HERE for the press release of the enercity utility of Hannover [German only].
Click HERE for a discussion of aging infrastructures [German only]

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Do You Need to Know to Retrieve Process Values from an IEC 61850 Compliant Device?

The answer is quite simple: Almost nothing! It depends – of course – on the availability of software for IEC 61850. Let’s assume that we have a device that plays the role of an IEC 61850 server (providing a data model and services to access the values referenced by the model).

What you need is a software that plays the IEC 61850 client role. There are several options:

  • Purchase source code and build your own client and API (Application Program Interface)
  • Purchase source code and build your own client with an API already incorporated
  • Purchase a client DLL with a simple and easy to use API
  • Purchase a ready to go Browser with a graphical interface

If you want to just retrieve some data values from a IEC 61850 compliant device, you JUST need to know the IP address of the device and a free Browser evaluation software. Download the well known OMICRON IEDScout; the IEDScout runs in Demo mode for free (restricted services!):

Click HERE for more information and download link for the IEDScout.

Install the IEDScout, go to Configure (right), select New Server just by entering the below IP address and assign a server name:


Use default values … click on OK … OK … done. Go to Discover … select the server you just configured … and start communication with the corresponding device. Retrieving the information model may take several minutes! The IEDScout retrieves the model … some thousand messages exchanged … you may trace the messages using the Wireshark analyzer. Start the Wireshark first and then start IEDScout and connect to any IED.

Once you have the model retrieved, open the model tree and read a value in the tree or see DataSets and Control Blocks.

How long did it take to access data values from an IEC conformant device? 30 minutes … may be 45. Maybe it took another 30 minutes to make it run on your Windows system ;-)

How many of the following standards have you read to get access to one of the above IEDs? IEC 61850-7-x, IEC 61850-8-1, ISO 9506-1/-2, ISO 8824, ISO 8825, IEEE 802.1Q, IETF RFC 792, … 1.000, 2.000, or 5.000 pages?

To use a (graphical) interface at a client there was NO NEED to read any of the above standards! What you may need is basic information about IEC 61850.

Of course, this IEDScout is not an API to be used by client applications. You cannot store the retrieved data values … ok, the full version allows to store the model as an SCL document … and store subscribed GOOSE messages.

Another easy to use API is the SystemCorp API used to build a very simple client HMI – a .Net/C# application:

The API (in form of a DLL) can be used to build your own client application in Windows (DLL) or in Linux (library).

Even the use of the DLL for the client and the use of the C# build HMI does not require to understand all details of the protocol.

Lesson 1 learned: To use the comprehensive protocols like IEC 61850, IEC 60870-5-105, IEC 60870-6 TASE.2, or DNP3 … a simple and easy to use API is needed!! Reading thousands of pages of standards is NOT what is required!!

Lesson 2 learned: The efforts to use any of the above protocols is more or less the same! Of course there is a configuration language SCL in IEC 61850 that requires a little bit more information/education …

Implementing the protocols requires a lot of time and efforts … there may be some difference depending on the protocol.

Be happy by just applying simple and easy to use APIs for clients and servers. Get your first data values communicated within hours – not months

What About Siemens Simatic S7 and IEC 61850?

Siemens Energy has a wide range of IEC 61850 compliant IEDs. This is what the power utility market expects. But: Does Siemens’ Simatic S7 also support IEC 61850? Yes, Siemens Industry offers a wide range IEC 61850 compliant solutions for Simatic S7 and PCS7; there are several solutions available:

  • Client and server for SIMATIC PLCs S7-300, S7-400 and S7 meC.
  • Client as WinCC Channel
  • Client as DLL
  • Gateway IEC 60870-5-104 to IEC 61850

Click HERE for more details including pricing and contact information [English]
HIER klicken für mehr Details, Preise und Kontaktinformation [Deutsch]

More to come in various other Siemens Industry products.

Siemens Energy Sold more than 170,000 IEC 61850 IEDs

Siemens Energy reported yesterday that they have sold more than 170,000 Protection and Control IEDs compliant with IEC 61850 applied in substation automation systems.

Click HERE to read the press release.

IEC 61850 Hands-on Training Course in Sao Paulo (Brazil) on 11.-14. October 2011 confirmed

The STRI/NettedAutomation hands-on training course scheduled for Sao Paulo (Brazil) on 11.-14. October 2011 is now confirmed. The registration is now open.

Click HERE for the Program and Registration information for attendees from Brazil.
Click HERE for the Program and Registration information for all other attendees.

The course will be conducted at Instronic:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Discussion on IEC 61850 versus DNP3

For more than a decade there are discussions on “IEC 61850 versus DNP3”. I just saw a discussion which seems to be quite new.

These discussions happened in the field bus area for the last 20+ years – and still happen. They do not really help the industry. Hope we will not run into the same situation in the power utility domain as in the field bus war!

Click HERE for the full discussion. There are many aspects discussed in the paper … I just want to discuss one issue raised:

Excerpt: “In addition, IEC 61850’s major advantage—that holistic concept to solutions—is also a major disadvantage for training. It’s different from the old system, requiring “a rather steep learning curve,” Muschlitz said.
“Many people get depressed when the stack of 1,500 pages of IEC 61850 is put in front of them with the directive ‘learn this,’ ” he said.”

Hm? Why should somebody read 1,500 pages of general information and many technical details? Why? Any idea? For what reason?

Have you ever read the technical specification of the many RFCs for TCP and IP and the Ethernet standards? What most people need – in order to use these technologies – is to have a simple API (Application Programmer Interface) for their Application (e.g., Internet Browser).

The real challenge with IEC 61850 is, that – before you can exchange a single bit with a MMS message – you need the MMS server and MMS client AND a specific API (at least at the client side).

Why should you care about MMS and ASN.1? Just use the API and exchange your application data by reading, reporting, GOOSE, Logging, … DON’T read the many parts of the standard!! The price of the standards will definitely be lower than the cost for reading AND understanding them!!

By the way, how many people that successfully use DNP3 have read and understood all parts of the DNP3 specification (xxx pages)?? I guess most do not have read all the docs – I would get depressed to do so as well … and you?

One of the key issues is the availability of reasonable and easy to use APIs. See my discussion on an IEC 61850 API from the other day: Click HERE.

If I would have to read and understand all specifications applied for an Airbus A380 in order to fly on it from Frankfurt to Johannesburg – I would never get there! I would better ride my bike … ;-) … but then there are the many bridges I have to go over … and ferries … to study first their specification and check if they are safe … I better would stay at home.

Anyway, I have run many trainings on IEC 61850 – A one, two or three day training is much cheaper than buying, reading, and understanding all parts of the standard series. Reading and understanding may take several weeks and cause depressions.

Attending seminars prevents you from becoming depressed! Almost all people that attended our seminars were quite happy! Read what an attendee said: Click HERE.

I wish you a stress-less application of IEC 61850 and other standards!! Good luck!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

High Level of Interoperability of Devices in the Power Utility Domain

There are no (almost no) competing solutions in reaching interoperability of monitoring, protection and control devices in the various areas of the power delivery domain. There is no need for a (FERC, EU, …) mandate for interoperability standards ... we have already a high level of interoperability and acceptance of standard families like IEC 60870-6 ICCP, IEC 61968/70, IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, IEC 62351, ... for the process and for the control center level in transmission, distribution, and generation.

Compare it with the international Field Bus standard IEC 61158 – there are little competing international standards for field busses!! YES!! BUT: There are some 60 solutions competing in ONE SINGLE standard: IEC 61158. See:

Have you ever seen such a (non) standard? I have seen it when I took the photo of the stack on my desk in my office in 2008! ;-)

We could be very lucky in the power utility world!!

I am happy to read FERC’s encouragement of “…utilities, smart grid product manufacturers, regulators, and other smart grid stakeholders to actively participate in the NIST interoperability framework process to work on the development of interoperability standards and to refer to that process for guidance on smart grid standards.”

Smart(er) grids need to be build on interoperable standards – Because there is one huge interconnected, interoperable application to be monitored, protected, and controlled: The interconnected power delivery system. The largest machine globally is the European interconnected system. So, interoperability (of the electric power system) is a key objective in the power world.

We need standards for IEDs that are as interoperable as a power generator (or inverter) from Alstom and a transformer from Siemens producing 400/230 V and 50 Hz and a hair dryer from GE that consumes 230 V and 50 Hz.

Electrical Engineers should understand the need of interoperability of IEDs. Just require the same for monitoring, protection and control IEDs.

Workshop IEC 61850 und IEC 61400-25 für die Energie-Versorgungssysteme der Zukunft

Nach dem erfolgreichen Workshop Anfang Juli 2011 bieten Beck IPC GmbH und NettedAutomation GmbH weitere eintägige Workshops zum Thema IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25 und IPC@CHIP® an:

30. September 2011 9:30 - 17:00 Deutsch *1
10. January 2012 9:30 - 17:00 English *2
11. Januar 2012 9:30 - 17:00 Deutsch *1

*1 Program siehe Link unten.
*2 Program in English will be provided soon.


Beck IPC GmbH
35415 Pohlheim,
Grüninger Weg 24

Kosten: 399 € pro Teilnehmer

Die Schulung bietet eine Einführung in die Normenreihen und vermittelt die wichtigsten Schritte zur schnellen und kostengünstigen Implementierung von IEC 61850 und IEC 61400-25 konformen Geräten und Systemen basierend auf Beck-Komponenten und dem SystemCorp API.

Hier KLICKEN, um weitere Informationen und das Programm zu erhalten.

Getting Started with SystemCorp’s IEC 61850 API on Embedded Linux in Hours

Yesterday (July 21, 2011) I conducted a one day seminar and hands-on training for a German vendor that offers embedded controllers with embedded Linux. SystemCorp ported their IEC 61850 software including the easy to use API (Application Program Interface) onto the embedded Linux controller and provided a simple example for digital inputs and outputs. They shipped the controller with an IEC 61850 example to me to run some tests and demonstrate the solution to the vendor of the controller (in Northern Germany).

During the morning I presented IEC 61850 basics in modeling, engineering, configuration, and communication. My intention was: Help the programmers to understand basics of IEC 61850 and support them to enhance the simple application program example with an temperature measurement (STMP logical node) that provides random values. I provided the enhanced CID file with the extended model (STMP).

After lunch we set up the environment and all needed components. Then the C-Programmer started to understand the given simple application program and the API at about 14:00 h. Some three hours later the extended application was up and running and providing values through IEC 61850 messages – just 2 minutes before the general manager of the company joined our meeting!

We were able to use the new information (temperature) with the various IEC 61850 services like polling, reporting, …

This exercise has again proven that Application programmers can learn the basics of IEC 61850 and write their own application software on the SystemCorp API within a few hours – instead of weeks and months.

The customer was very happy to reach such a challenging objective within a day – before summer vacation season starts!

The embedded Linux platform will be available within the next few months.

Please come by and check this blog – or simply subscribe to the blog (see above right corner).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

FERC and the five IEC Standard Families

FERC recommended in October 2010 to start a rulemaking process in order to mandate the five families (IEC 61968, IE 61970, IEC 60870-6 TASE.2, IEC 61850 and IEC 62351) for the North American market. For details click HERE.

After many meetings and discussions FERC decided now to recommend these standards – but not to mandate them.

There are good reasons to keep the standardization process going and not to stop the development of these standards and not to freeze the current content. As I always say: We are still at the very beginning of the development and application of theses standards. Of course, the basic technology is defined and mature – but we all need more experience and feedback so that the standards can be improved and extended.

Adoption of any of these standard series mandated by a regulator could harm the whole process of adoption of these standards – because it could stop or blockade the needed maintenance of the standards.

At this time, the five standard families are still recommended by NIST and FERC for guidance in the development of smart(er) grid supporting technologies.

For the standards IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, IEC 60870-6 TASE.2, and IEC 62351 there seems to be no discussion anymore if these standards will be adopted by the power utility market or not !! The market HAS ADOPTED these standards already. Even if a utility does not ask for IEC 61850 – it will get it! What else?

These standards don’t need any rule making, don’t need to become mandatory standards in the North American market. They are already THE GLOBALLY ACCEPTED AND USED STANDARDS!! The North American market is also about to adopt these standards. The wait for the rulemaking is over (for now) – these standards can and will be used in North America as in the rest of the world.

Note: There is NO competing solution for these standards on my radar screen at all – really.

Click HERE for the official order of FERC [Docket No. RM11-2-000] dated July 19, 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

News from the IEC TC 57 Standardization Work

The following documents and New Work Proposals have been approved for final publication on 2011-07-15:

IEC 62351-8 TS Ed.1 [Approved Technical Specification]:
Power systems management and associated information exchange – Data and communications security – Part 8: Role-based access control

IEC 61850-10-2 TS Ed.1 [Approved New project of Working Group 18]:
Communication networks and systems for power utility automation - Part 10-2: Interoperability test for hydro equipments based on IEC 61850

IEC 62351-9 TS Ed.1 [Approved New project of Working Group 15]:
Power systems management and associated information exchange – Data and communications security – Part 9: Cyber security key management for power system equipment

The following draft documents have been provided for publication on 2011-07-15:

Draft IEC 61850-90-4 TR [WG 10 Document for Comments by 2011-09-02]
Communication networks and systems for power utility automation – Part 90-4: Network engineering guidelines for substations

Draft IEC 61850-90-7 TR [WG 17 Document for Comments by 2011-09-02]
Communication networks and systems for power utility automation – Part 90-7: IEC 61850 object models for photovoltaic, storage, and other DER inverters

IEC 61850 together with IEC 61400-25 and IEC 62351 provides a complete suite of standards for automation – even the title restricts the scope to power utility automation. This restriction is just toner on the paper! Almost all definitions in these standards can be used in many other domains. The communication stack (including object dictionary, ACSI, MMS, TCP/IP, Ethernet, … most of SCL) are completely independent of the electrical world.

2,500 Experts Educated in IEC 61850 and other IEC standards

Karlheinz Schwarz has trained 2,500 experts in IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, ICCP/IEC 60870-6, IEC 60870-5-10x, DNP3, ISO 9506 MMS, … by mid of July 2011. He conducted more than 130 courses that run from one to eleven days. Attendees from more than 70 countries followed the presentations by one of the most requested trainers in this domain.

One of the attendees thanked for what he got:

“It was a very useful seminar. Karlheinz Schwarz is highly qualified professional in the field. I must say that we got the information from first hands and he was able to answer every question almost at once and if not - knew where to look for the answer. It is great that we had such an opportunity to attend such a seminar.
If to compare this seminar with those provided by vendors I must state that vendors have a different approach – the approach that states that IEC 61850 standard is going to solve all the existing problems. And it is not like that at the moment. What is true here is that we need to have skills and a higher level of competence in the field – either way the standard is not going to bring benefits. It was mentioned by Karlheinz Schwarz during the seminar and it is right. It was very good to know about the existing problems. Nobody before mentioned about those things we should take care of to use the possibilities of IEC 61850 with the highest efficiency. And we can understand why the vendors do not talk about such things – because every need to acquire new knowledge and get the higher level of competence would require more investments from the utilities. It is important for the utilities to know about that.”

The next public events are as follows:

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

Frankfurt (Germany)
05.-07. October 2011.
3 day IEC 61850/61400-25 Seminar/Hands-on Training (NettedAutomation) with Measurement IED and free evaluation software (DLL etc. fully functional - free to take home).

Sao Paulo (Brazil)
11.-14. October 2011.
IEC 61850 Comprehensive & Independent Hands-on Training.

Pohlheim (Germany, 60 km north of Frankfurt at Beck IPC)
30. September 2011 - 1 day workshop [German]
10. January 2012 - 1 day workshop [English]
11. January 2012 - 1 day workshop [German]
Schnelleinstieg in die Produktentwicklung IEC 61850 und IEC 61400-25 konformer Geräte. Fast Track introduction in IEC 61850 and development of standard conformant products.

Gothenburg (Sweden)
IEC 61850 Hands-on Training with Multivendor IEDs
19.-21. October 2011

IEC 61850 in Papers at the CIRED 2011 Conference in Frankfurt (Germany)

One of the topics presented and discussed at the CIRED 2011 Conference in Frankfurt (Germany) was IEC 61850. 15 papers were about IEC 61850 with different objectives and scope.

You can freely access these papers from the CIRED website. Just click on the following links:

There seems to be a lot of applications which people have not thought about some five or ten years ago.

One of the key needs seems to be all over to USE the standard for many applications in a FAST TO MARKET approach – instead of discussing one or the other protocol issues. The use of WIMAX applications demonstrates what we have said many times: the layered architecture of IEC 61850 can leverage the progress in communication systems. The same is true for 1 GBit/s Ethernet and time synchronization according to IEC 61588 (IEEE 1588).

The last two papers introduce IEC 61850 for condition monitoring – quite interesting and good examples for the application of IEC 61850 in power distribution.

The last but one paper from ABB (On-line condition monitoring …) says:

“This new circuit breaker (CB) is a highly integrated device that combines measurement, protection and control capability with the primary power disconnection, switching and interruption technology. The CB embeds a protection and control Intelligent Electronic Device (IED) designed to unleash the full potential of the IEC 61850 standard for communication and interoperability. …

Fast delivery
The high technology production line and component standardization enable to guarantee the same delivery time for the new CB series as the standard circuit breaker.”

Fast delivery means fast development. Embedded Controllers with IEC 61850 software already integrated into the platform could provide an easy to use and fast to go API (Application Program Interface). You can start right away with your application development – skip the IEC 61850 software integration that usually may take six to 12 months!!

The first small footprint embedded controller with an integrated IEC 61850 stack providing a simple API is the Beck IPC 61850@CHIP. There will be two other controllers running LINUX available soon that have the same IEC 61850 stack from SystemCorp and the same simple API.

Many IED vendors are already developing their HW and SW applying the Beck IPC Chip for various applications (protection, control, measurements, charging stations, …).

Stay tuned to this Blog to get information on the two new powerful LINUX based embedded controllers with IEC 61850. Product announcements will be released this summer (2011). More to come.

Last but not least: There is still confusion what the Edition 1 and Edition 2 of IEC 61850 mean.

Click HERE to read what Edition 1 and Edition 2 means.

The Parts of IEC 61850 – Status 2011-06

The status (2011-07-15) of the various parts of IEC 61850 is as follows (blue means: Edition 2 of the corresponding document):

System Aspects

1 Introduction and Overview
2 Glossary
3 General Requirements (EMC, …)
4 System and Project Management
5 Comm. Requirements for Functions and Device Models (reaction time …)


6 Configuration Language for electrical Substation IED’s (App., IEDs, System, …)

Abstract Communication Services

7-1 Principles and Models
7-2 Abstract Communication Services (ACSI)

Mapping to real Communication Networks (SCSM)

8-1 Mapping to MMS and ISO/IEC 8802-3
9-2 Sampled Values over ISO/IEC 8802-3


10 Conformance Testing
10-2 Interoperability test for hydro equipments based on IEC 61850

Data Models und usage of models

7-3 Common Data Classes
7-4 Compatible Logical Node and Data Classes

7-410 Hydroelectric power plants
7-420 Distributed energy resources (DER)
7-5 Usage of information models SAS
7-500 Use of LN to model functions (SAS)
7-510 Use of LN (hydro power plants)
7-520 Use of LN (DER)
7-10 Web-based access to the IEC 61850 models

Use-cases and network infrastructure

80-1 Guideline … CDC-based data model using IEC 60870-5-101 or IEC 60870-5-104

90-1 Using IEC 61850 for SS-SS communication
90-2 Using IEC 61850 for SS-CC communication
90-3 Using IEC 61850 for Condition Monitoring
90-4 Network Engineering Guidelines
90-5 Exchange of synchrophasor information
90-6 Use of IEC 61850 for Distribution Automation
90-7 Object Models for PV, Storage … inverters, …
90-8 Object Models for Electrical Transportation
90-9 Object Models for Batteries

The number of Information Models are:

7-3 Common Data Classes [40]
7-4 Compatible Logical Node / Data Classes [158 LN /982 DO]
7-410 Hydroelectric power plants [ 63/350]
7-420 Distributed energy resources (DER) [ 50/450]
90-3 Using IEC 61850 for Condition Monitoring [?]
90-5 Exchange of synchrophasor information [?]
90-6 Use of IEC 61850 for Distribution Automation [?]
90-7 Object Models for PV, Storage … (important!) [5/50]
90-8 Object Models for Electrical Transportation [?]
90-9 Object Models for Batteries [?]
61400-25-2 Wind Turbines [16/250]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The first Commercial IEC 61850-9-2 Installation by ABB

ABB is implementing the first commercial installation of IEC 61850-9-2 LE process-bus technology (exchanging sampled values), according to a publication from early 2011.

ABB: “Powerlink (Brisbane, Australia) awarded the contract for upgrading the first iPASS substation to ABB. This project represents the world’s first commercial implementation of a process bus according to IEC 61850-9-2 LE. Its implementation is now well under way.”

Click HERE for the complete 5 page ABB publication.
Click HERE for further information provided by Powerlink.

Can IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2 be used to build Agents?

There are more and more discussions on the question if IEC 61850 could be applied to build an Agent. Some understand this as IEC 61850 versus Agent.

What is an Agent? There are as many answers when you ask experts.

I found a very interesting definition of an (special) Agent on Wikipedia:

Monitoring and surveillance agents (also known as predictive agents) are a type of intelligent agent software that observes and reports on computer equipment. Monitoring and surveillance agents are often used to monitor complex computer networks to predict when a crash or some other defect may occur. Another type of monitoring and surveillance agent works on computer networks keeping track of the configuration of each computer connected to the network. It tracks and updates the central configuration database when anything on any computer changes, such as the number or type of disk drives. An important task in managing networks lies in prioritizing traffic and shaping bandwidth.”

More generally Wikipedia provides a definition of an Agent:

“In computer science, a software agent is a piece of software that acts for a user or other program”.

IEC 61850 can be used for many applications: Protection and Control in Substations, SCADA, monitoring any simple and complex computer based applications in the (power system) Automation or assets like transformer, etc. This covers also network components like Ethernet Switches – there is work underway to model the network management MIB onto Logical Nodes and DataObjects and use the IEC 61850 services!. An IEC 61850 Server can act for a Client (and its User – a person or program). Crucial characteristics of Agents can be found in IEC 61850, too. You are not (yet) convinced!?

Let me point to the Edition 2 of IEC 61850-7-2 (ACSI) published in August 2010. What is new there? A lot great stuff for more secure systems!

Edition 1 had already the service model of Reporting and Logging observing (monitoring) application information like status or limit violations – allowing to send and log spontaneous events. There was also a possibility to monitor attributes of the various control blocks (Reporting, Logging, GOOSE, SMV); allowing to report or log the enable request of a control block. This last application has been extended in Edition 2 to keeping track of all ACSI services.

Edition 2 of IEC 61850-7-2 introduces the concept of the Service tracking in clause 14:

The reporting and logging functions of process and function related data objects as defined in Edition 1 of IEC 61850-7-x and IEC 61400-25-2 are extended in Edition 2 of IEC 61850-7-2 to keep track of changes, event, or actions in the process related information modeled as Logical Nodes and DataObjects. IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2 provides the possibility to keep track of all services, even those with negative responses. The services are classified as follows:

  • Control block related services
  • Command related services
  • Other services

IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2 defines additional specific common data classes for each type of service to be reported or logged. For a given Server, a single data object instance (tracking data object) needs to be instantiated in the object model for each kind of service, that will mirror the value of the service parameters exchanged and its acceptance by the server. This allows that a service can be logged or reported to any client. This requires that the tracking data object is a member of the data-set referenced by a LCB, BRCB, or URCB.

The following additional Common Data Classes (CDC) are defined in IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2:

  • Common service tracking (CST)
  • Buffered report Tracking Service (BTS)
  • Unbuffered report Tracking Service (UTS)
  • Log control block Tracking Service (LTS)
  • GOOSE control block Tracking Service (GTS)
  • MSVCB Tracking Service (MTS)
  • USVCB Tracking Service (NTS)
  • SGCB Tracking Service (STS)

The tracking of services could be used to record the “manipulation” of the process and the information exchange control block attributes, e.g., the settings of relays or other functions. The FERC CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection) requires to keep logs (records) of many information changes. The reporting and logging of IEC 61850-7-2 and the extended common data classes could be used to implement such a “Recorder” or “Data Logger”.

IEC 61850 (IEC 61400-25) provides a reach suite of service-oriented, event-driven or agent-oriented application and information exchange models.

The answer of the question in the headline is simply: YES, IEC 61850 can.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is IEC 61850 Plug&Play or like DNP4.0 or IEC 60870-5-105?

There are many different expectations I heard from protection and control experts all over. Some people guess that IEC 61850 provides Plug&Play capabilities – meaning: Utilities just purchase IEC 61850 IEDs and (all in a sudden) their protection and control systems are up and running! There is a group of other people that expects that IEC 61850 is just another protocol – a bit more than today’s solutions … something like “DNP4.0” or “IEC 60870-5-105” [of course DNP4.0 and 105 are not real!].

IEC 61850 is much more than DNP3.0 and IEC 60870-5-104, and it does NOT provide Plug&Play. Building substation protection and control systems requires to understand the applications (the many protection and protection related requirements) and to find a way how to apply IEC 61850 compliant IEDs and tools to solve their many needs.

IEC 61850 is a suite of tools that can be used to solve application needs. How to use the tools and when, is NOT defined in the standard! Utilities have to find their (step by step) way to get started with IEC 61850 based solutions. It is important to get started – don’t wait until IEC 61850 solves all your needs and problems. This will never happen!

Some US experts have discussed in 2005 or early 2006 what IEC 61850 provides and what needs to be done to apply the standard and standard based solutions. They show that IEC 61850 has an impact on many aspects in system design and deployment.

IEC 61850
A Practical Application Primer for Protection Engineers
Bogdan Kasztenny, James Whatley, Eric A. Udren, John Burger, Dale Finney, Mark Adamiak

Click HERE for the 43 page paper – worth to read.

My hope is that readers of the paper (hopefully readers from the utilities – or students finishing their education soon) understand that IEC 61850 requires utility people that are well educated in IEC 61850 – in order to understand what the big vendors have commissioned and how to use the various features of the new design.

Today I received an email from one the international biggest transmission utilities asking for help in better understanding what is needed and what has been commissioned:

“Karlheinz, …. As you probably know, there are more and more digital substations in XXX, provided by XXX and XXX for the time being. Even if our contracts does not specify explicitly the use of 61850, they are based on this standard. Today, these substations can be viewed as black boxes, without really taking into consideration the advantages of new digital technologies. …”

One of the crucial needs is: MORE EDUCATION FOR UTILITY EXPERTS!! I have met many utility people that were responsible for the substations based on IEC 61850 – but DID NOT any clue how to use IEC 61850 build in functions.

IEC 61850 has a crucial impact on the WHOLE system and the engineers that build systems.

Finally, SCADA applications (to get status changes, limit violations, measurements, statistical information, historical information, …) can apply IEC 61850 right away with commercially available Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solutions like the well appreciated Windows DLL for IEC 61850 (applicable for servers, clients, publishers, and subscribers).

Click HERE for a Windows DLL evaluation kit with an C# application example including source code of the client and server applications (that use the DLL).

Basics of IEC 61850 Control Blocks and Communication

The standards IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 provide a reach suite of information exchange mechanisms. The basis of all exchanges are the information models (e.g., Logical Node “QE3XSWI1.Pos" that represent the real world information. The information models are shown on the right side of the following figure. DataObjects can be read at any time.

The next level on-top of the information models are the DataSets. A DataSet is a list of references to attributes of DataObjects (e.g., Pos). DataSets can be read – which is an optimization: instead of a list of references, there is only a single name to be provided (the DataSet name) for reading.


The third level are the Control Blocks (for reporting, Logging, GOOSE, and Sampled Values). All three levels constrain the way how values are communicated.

Details are presented, discussed and trained in the hands-on trainings of NettedAutomation.

Note that all four control blocks provide appropriate services for SCADA, real-time control, and protections. Applications in distributed automation (for power distribution automation) are likely to require additional features (communication between hundreds of devices, …).

One of the real crucial approaches is that the Data Objects are independent of the Data Sets, which are independent of Control Blocks. The SystemCorp IEC 61850 API provides almost everything discussed in this post! The API supports any Logical Node (standardized and extended!). The API runs smoothly on the BECK IPC 61850@CHIP.

If you want to know which of the above options you should apply, please let me know WHAT YOU NEED !!

The four Keep-alives in IEC 61850

IEC 61850 uses several mechanisms to monitor the communication between two devices (Client/Server) or between a publisher and many subscribers and to monitor functionsin order to increase the overall reliability of the information exchange.

The four mechanisms allow to check connected devices and determine whether the connection and the devices are still up and running or not. Reactions on failures are a local matter of applications.

The two mechanisms for Client/Server are:

  • Keep-alive in TCP connections (used by MMS) [RFC 1122]
  • Reporting of Report Control Block attribute “IntgPd” [ACSI, 7-2]

The two mechanisms for Publisher/Subscriber (Layer 2 multicast) are:

  • Time-Allowed-to-Live in GOOSE messages (next message in) [8-1]
  • Sample Rate in SMV message (sampled measured value) [ACSI,7-2]

The following figure shows how Integrity Period (communicated in a Report message) could be used to cyclically inform the client that the Reporting mechanism is up and running. Integrity Period is often used in cases where events happen very seldom and where the client wants to have a “heart beat” from the reporting server.


The configuration of the DataSet and the Report Control Block is usually provided by a SCL file. In the case of SystemCorp’s IEC 61850 API it is easily be done by uploading the corresponding SCL File to the IED, e.g., the Beck IPC IEC61850@CHIP.

Click HERE to evaluate the “Keep-Alives” with Reporting and GOOSE and real software running under Windows.

Click HERE in case you are looking for education and training about the possibilities, philosophy, and details of IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25.

I have educated more than 2.500 people from more than 60 countries and more than 600 companies. More to come … see you soon.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Use of IEC 61400-25 to secure access to key O&M data

Vattenfall (one of the big European power utilities) plans to use IEC 61400-25 (an extension of IEC 61850) for operational and maintenance (service) applications.

Here is the conclusion of the paper:
”The IEC 61400-25 series of standards provides the means to get open and easy access to key O&M data [operation and maintenance data]. This data is a necessity for making the evaluations and analysis needed to improve operation and maintenance of the wind power plants. The paper has shown how the standard can be implemented and what benefits are associated with its use.
The standard does not restrict nor mandate specific customer-supplier roles, but provides a solution that supports the whole range of business cases where the different actors can cooperate. Both the customer and the supplier can benefit from IEC 61400-25 through decreased costs for data access and system integration. Time and money can instead be put on the development of applications, functions and methods that increase the performance of the wind turbines.
Vattenfall considers standards such as IEC 61400-25 to be an important part in the development of the wind power business. The IEC 61400-25 series of standards is therefore part of Vattenfall technical requirements for future procurements.”

The same is true for any other energy resource feeding electric energy into the grid – at any voltage level. The renewable resources and – more general – distributed energy resources (DER) are key for the future electric power delivery system. A government funded project in Germany (EUMONIS: Innovationsallianz zur Entwicklung einer Software- und Systemplattform für Energie- und Umweltmonitoringsysteme) is looking for accessing, storing and using information from the sheer unlimited number of power resources in the near future: PV, CHP, hydro, wind, flying wheels, … One objective is to have information about the status and availability of the resource in a central database, in order to operate and maintain the “distributed Power Plant”. This seems to be one of the crucial challenges in the years to come.

Click HERE to access the complete Vattenfall paper [pdf].
Click HERE for the website of EUMONIS [German].

Did you know that IEC 61400-25 covers also Condition Monitoring needs?

Wind turbines - Part 25-6: Communications for monitoring and control of wind power plants - Logical node classes and data classes for condition monitoring

Click HERE for the preview of part IEC 61400-25-6

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wireshark Analyzer and IEC 61850 Messages (MMS, GOOSE, SAV)

When you use Wireshark (I run Version 1.6.0) you may have had a problem to see GOOSE and MMS messages. There is a simple solution how to visualize the MMS and GOOSE messages:

You have to start the Wireshark first, start analyzing and THEN connect from a IEC 61850 client to a server to open a MMS association. Now you see the messages … strange but it works … as you can see:


Monday, July 4, 2011

Another Dissertation dealing with IEC 61850: Secure Multicast

JIANQING ZHANG has analyzed the multicast services in power system communications. His dissertation discusses one of the crucial issues in distributed power automation. He “proposes an application-aware approach to setting up secure multicast for power grid communications that automatically derives group memberships and verifies configuration conformance from data dependencies
in system specifications … To evaluate the approach, we present a case study of IEC 61850 power substation networks and have developed a demo system, SecureSCL. …”

Click HERE for the dissertation.

More to come …

Dissertation on IEC 61850-9-2 Merging Unit

Marcin Adam Gurbiel received her Dr.-Ing. (PhD) with the Dissertation on “Definition and Testing of a Digital Interface of a Power Substation”. Her findings are quite interesting. She writes in the summary: “… it is possible to apply the common information exchange protocol based on IEC 61850 to the process level of the substation automation system by implementing a digital interface or so called “Merging Unit”.

ISSN 16-12-2526
ISBN 978-3-940961-54-9

Click HERE for some interesting results of her work.