Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Major German RTU Vendor implements IEC 61850 instead of phased-out model IEC 60870-5-101 and 104

The IDS company based in Ettlingen (Germany) offers a gateway to collect data from many underlying protocols and converts them into IEC 61850 Models for the communication with control centers. They wrote in a recent publication that the classical RTU protocols IEC 60870-5-101 and –104 are phase-out solutions for the communication with control centers. One crucial issue they highlight is the semantic information models and self-description services defined in IEC 61850.

The same company was a very strong supporter for using IEC 60870-5-101 and –104 for the communication with control centers – and partly within substations. What I see these days: More and more people are changing their mind!

The protocol gateway (which is a server) uses for the uplink to the control center IEC 61850 information objects and web services according to IEC 61400-25-4 Annex A for the protocol. This combination (IEC 61850 models and IEC 61400-25-4 mappings) is technically feasible. Formally it is not defined in any standard!

That is why the gateway (server) cannot interoperate with any IEC 61850 client. It is a product that can communicate with a client according to IEC 61400-25-4 Annex A only.

The first reason they provided why they did not use MMS is as follows: MMS would require to have permanent TCP and MMS connections maintained! That is true for substation automation, where short reaction times for crucial spontaneous event reports are required. If the required reaction is in the seconds, there is no reason why a permanent connection should be required! MMS does not require permanent connections! A MMS client can close the connection as soon as a service is completed.

Click HERE for the paper published in the etz magazine [German only].

It is also important to know that (to my knowledge) most vendors implementing IEC 61400-25 are using the mapping according to IEC 61400-25-4 Annex C (MMS, IEC 61850-8-1): Bachmann, Beckhoff, Ingeteam, Siemens, …

Finally: a new work item has been proposed to IEC TC 57 (home of IEC 61850) to standardize a web service mapping as IEC 61850-8-2. The question is now: Which solution should be chosen or developed? Three candidates are already discussed and proposed for further investigation:

1. DPWS (Device Profile Web Services)
3. IEC 61400-25-4 Annex A (as a starting point)

Nobody knows which solution will finally be standardized for IEC 61850 and how long it will take. There may be additional candidates proposed during the official ballot on the new work item once it is out for ballot … may be by end of 2011. Hopefully we will see a single solution being published in 8-2. Nobody knows.

Having multiple standards for the mappings means: split the market in non-interoperability domains!

Click HERE for a further a discussion on web services.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Final Call for IEC 61850 (61400-25) Seminar and Hands-On Training in Frankfurt, October 05-07

The 3 day IEC 61850/61400-25 Seminar/Hands-on Training with real IEDs (embedded controller programmable in C/C++ and IEC 61131-3) and free evaluation software (DLL etc. fully functional - free to take home) is scheduled to be held in Frankfurt (Germany) from 05.-07. October 2011.

There are a few seats available. You can even register the latest by Tuesday evening (Oct 04) … I can print another set of hand-outs before I leave to Frankfurt … ;-)

Click HERE for details. Questions on the attendance fee etc? Contact us.

I have conducted some 140 courses and educated more than 2,650 experts all over. The experience I collected throughout these events – will be given to you – in case you attend next week. One of the attendees of last week’s event in Nashville (TN, USA) wrote me today:

“I really did enjoy the workshop and did get lots of information both from the material and your expertise. I feel I have a better understanding of 61850- which was my goal. Thank you.”

See you next week.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Two Are Better Than One – An Old Wisdom

King Salomon wrote some 3,000 years ago about redundancy:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. …. and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

It would be very helpful in the future electric power delivery system if a higher degree of redundancy would be implemented! There is still a lot … but it is degrading in many places all over.

The major power outage in the San Diego region two weeks ago caused a failure in “a portion of the “north loop” of San Diego County’s Regional
Communications System (RCS) experienced a major failure when the county-wide power outage hit on September 8, 2011. This was the second major outage for the redundant 800 MHz RCS that was designed to carry public safety communications without the need for a backup system. …”

Accountants may say: The backup costs a lot of money … ;-)


Click HERE to read the full report.

I have seen communication “boxes” for wind turbines that offer three communication channels … just in case! TCP/IP over Ethernet, GPRS, and Satellite. That should work highly reliable and offer a high availabilty.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Modeling Logics with IEC 61850-90-11

IEC TC 57 has started to work officially on models for Logics:

IEC TR 61850-90-11: Communication networks and systems for power utility
automation – Part 90-11: Methodologies for modeling of logics for IEC 61850 based applications

The national committees of TC 57 are requested to contribute to the new part of the standard series IEC 61850.

Standards like IEC 61131-3, IEC 61499 and others will be taken into account.

If you are interested in this work, contact your TC 57 National Committee or myself.

A discussion of the use of IEC 61499 in conjunction with IEC 61850 can be found HERE (Towards Intelligent Smart Grid Devices with IEC 61850 Interoperability and IEC 61499 Open Control Architecture)

Or check these.

Power Outage in the South-West – Controlling Huge Power Systems is a Challenge

A huge interconnected power system follows 100 per cent the rules of laws like the Kirchhoff's Law and others. The Physics of the electrical system does not care about share-holder value, regulation and de-regulation – it is a law that can’t be changed by lawyers and bank managers!

The electrical power in every homes outlet is understood as a given – as sun shine and rain!! It is just here.

Two weeks after the power outage in the South-Western, it is likely that missing communication at the level of humans had a big impact on the stability of the power system.

Click HERE for some more details.

Click HERE for a discussion if the regulation or the de-regulation of the power market had a huge impact on the power outage.

Whatever people’s interpretation is: the electrical system is an electrical system that cannot be cheated.

I’m wondering why the control systems involved in providing a stable power system in the South-West seemed to not have all crucial information about the power system exchanged between all technical systems (parties) involved. There is a standard available for many years that would allow to exchange all real-time information needed to control the power system: IEC 60870-6 TASE.2 (ICCP).

There is one lesson we have to learn: The information systems could also not change the Kirchoff’s and other laws. The electrical system is an electrical system for the last 100+ years and for the future …

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some more Details on the September 8 Power Outage in San Diego

Some more details on the causes that let to the big Power Outage in California, Arizona and Mexico on September 8, 2011 have been published.

The SignOnSanDiego reports on Sept 16: “ … the Cal-ISO chief said, investigators so far have identified 23 separate events that occurred during the 11-minute span, each of which played a role in denying electricity to San Diego County and beyond.” 23 is a lot!

Click HERE for the complete report.

Whatever caused the power outage: There will be something to learn and to change … and I guess there will be a growing need to exchange more real-time or near real-time information between humans, systems and devices. Standards will help to implement new measures.

Please let me know as soon as you have more details.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

IEC 61850 knowledge required for many new Jobs all over

Nine positions in Germany are open for engineers [today: 2011-09-15] with IEC 61850 (and partly with DNP) background according to the website Simplyhired!

Click HERE for the list of positions in Germany.

And in North America? The website links to 107 open positions within North America [today: 2011-09-15] !!! Yes!

Click HERE for the list in the USA.

11 new positions have been added the last 7 days [today: 2011-09-15]:

Click HERE for the list of that last 7 days.

Good luck if you are looking for a job where you can use your IEC 61850 experience and knowledge.

IEC 61850 and DNP3 applications are picking up!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Southern California Edison’s Vision for Tomorrow’s Smart Electric Grid – Invest in yourself

In the IEEE power & energy magazine, issue of September/October 2011, you can find very interesting and important statements on the future electric power grid. The current issue provides several papers on power distribution systems. One remarkable paper is “Good Vibrations” (p 22-32) from Robert J. Yinger and Ardalan E. Kamiab (both with Southern California Edison, Westminster, California).

They state at the very beginning that “A smart grid involves adding to
the grid millions of smart electronic devices like phasor measurement
units, fault indicators, meters, and electric vehicle chargers that will send and receive millions of pieces of data per minute to produce actionable information and using that information to enhance the operations and control of the electric system.”

New hardware and software needs to be developed, installed and used – by engineers and programmers that may still be students at a high school. And what about the senior technicians? Are they “open” for “open” systems?

Whatever the mix of renewable power will be – one thing is sure: the future power delivery system needs a lot more information systems for the millions of smart electric devices!! Standards help to keep the cost quite low – by preventing the proliferation of the myriads of vendor specific solutions.

Be aware that standards are just tools – in the hands of people: young and senior experts, and newbies.

For Southern California Edison’s vision standards like IEC 61850 and DNP3 are quite crucial. In order to really benefit from the standards, “one of the challenges facing the utility industry over the next few years is training the necessary workforce for planning, building, operating, and maintaining the smart grid. A large number of new technologies are being applied to the smart grid, including new equipment, state-of-the-art communications technologies, and advanced control capabilities … that can help the entire utility industry prepare the workforce of the future to implement the smart grid … The workforce needs to be trained so that all of these new technologies can be implemented smoothly … Planning for these advanced smart grid systems needs to be done now …”

There is a chance next week (in Nashville, TN, 20-21 September, 2011) to get prepared for the new standards IEC 61850 and DNP3:

Click HERE for the program and further details of event next week.

Invest in becoming a valued power automation professional!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Huge Power Outage in South-West of U.S.A – started in Substation?

The South-West of the U.S.A. was hit by a major power outage (some 5 million people had no power) that was likely being caused by some event in a substation yesterday (Thursday, 2011-09-08). Reports say that it is likely that an employee removing a piece of monitoring equipment has caused a massive power outage. Investigations are underway.

What does this mean for standards like IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25, DNP3, CIM, … ? It means a lot for people that deal with the power system! Why? Because we have to understand that the power delivery system is a huge and complex POWER system!!! Power engineers and electrical engineers are very crucial to the availability of the power 24 hours and 7 days a week! All the smart(er) grid and substation automation activities and solutions based on information models and communication standards are secondary (even they are becoming more important in the future).

When I conducted the workshop on IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 in Shanghai (China) last Monday, I highly recommended to the 110 young engineers and students that they should closely team up with the experienced senior power and electrical engineers that have run the power grid so far!

Information Technology WILL (and MUST) SUPPORT the operation of the future power system – BUT it is more important to have enough power and electrical engineers. So, TEAMWORK of all people involved in the power system is VERY CRUCIAL!! And PEOPLEWARE – well experienced and educated engineers.

Teamwork requires that each person involved has a basic understanding of all the many aspects of the grid, how to operate and maintain it! Electrical engineers need to understand the huge influence that will come through the new standards like IEC 61850, … and IT people need the basics of the power grid!

If you get more details on the cause of the blackout in San Diego this week, please post it through the comment link to this post. Thanks.

We all (as a Team) have to learn something out of this big event!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

110 Young People attended the Shanghai IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 Workshop

The workshop on IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 organized by the State Energy Smart Grid R&D Center (Shanghai) hosted at Shanghai Jiao Tong University on Monday, 05 September 2011, was very successful.

The 110 young attendees from 37 organizations came to the event to get up-to-date information about the standards, market acceptance, challenges with the new standards, experience, and implementation hints.

One of the students of the workshop and the teacher at the entrance:


The 110 attendees (mostly young people):


Professor Peichao Zhang and his colleague Professor Dong Liu organized the event:


Click HERE for the program of the event.

According to a report given during the IEC TC 57 Plenary meeting in Shanghai (6.-7. September 2011), one substation per day and one wind power turbine per hour are installed in China. So, there is a huge demand for solutions according to IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25.

The young people are eager to learn how to use the standards for the various products and applications. The workshop has helped them a lot to get the basics of the standard.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reporting and GOOSE compared

IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 offers various possibilities for exchanging data values in real-time or near real-time. Whatever your definition of real-time is, here are some hints on the options and some hints on how to use them:

List of possibilities to exchange data values:


Comparison of Reporting and GOOSE / Sampled measured values (SMV):


Note that all message contents are encoded ASN.1 BER – with the exception of the data values in SMV and optionally in GOOSE Edition 2 where the data values are fixed encoded (for optimization!).

The timeliness of GOOSE and SMV depends on the definition of the standard (e.g., using special messages directly on data link) AND on the IMPLEMENTATION! The bottleneck is usually in the end-nodes and not in the communication.