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).

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