Wednesday, November 28, 2012

IEC 61850 – Is Interoperability of Devices reached?

Increased and Sustainable Interoperability of intelligent devices in the power delivery domain is one of the crucial objectives of IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 (Wind Power). Interoperability is reached to a quite high degree – sure, there are a few examples where we see some challenges to improve one or the other technical problem!
My personal experience is that there is still some room for improvements – in the standard series IEC61850 and IEC 61400-25 and in the implementations and use of various vendors’ devices. One reason that causes headaches is linked to the many options in the standards. Vendors very often interpret the mandatory (m) and optional (o) designation as m=minimum, o=oops there is something we can ignore. Users often expect that they can decide to use mandatory and optional definitions – they expect that vendors have to implement almost all options.
There is – of course – a huge lack of understanding what and how to implement IEC 61850 and how to use standard compliant devices; and to figure out what goes wrong. Education of vendors and users is one of the most highly recommended actions to improve interoperability!
The other day I was called to help solving a six months’ discussion between two vendors of IEC 61850 compliant products, a third vendor using their devices, the project management and the user.
It took me (with a helmet and security jacket and security shoes) less than a day on the site (a medium voltage substation in a new coal fired 920 MW power plant) to figure out the reason of a non-interoperable behavior of the power plant control system (IEC 61850 client) that had a problem with one device type. The control system wants to set the TrgOps (trigger options) of the report control blocks in all devices. It sends a SetURCBValues service with the value [x111 11xx]. All but one devices accept this value (even they do not support one of the 5 bits that can be set to 1). One device supports only three out of the five [x100 11xx] – setting 3rd and 4th Bit true is not accepted and causes a negative SetURCBValues message (according to the definition in IEC 61850-7-2).
This minor issue causes a big trouble because the client (power plant control system) cannot set the General Interrogation to true – and cannot use it !!
I expect that this non-conformity will be fixed soon. It is not a big issue – but it caused six months trouble and created a lot of frustrations!
If the right expertise would get involved in such discussions at an early stage it is likely that many of the non-conformities would be solved very soon. Comprehensive education is required when it comes to IEC 61850 – the earlier the better. Be aware: IEC 61850 is not just another protocol.
Some complaints about the many options in the standard series are discussed in a paper published the other day.
“… the world needs — there is a user group already associated with IEC 61850 — is some type of organization that will work through 61850, come up with a subset that eliminates all the options and drive that down to the vendors and say, "here, do this."
This is a great approach. The main reason this has not yet been done is mainly the absence of users in the many discussions in the standardization working groups and the UCAIUG (UCA international users group), and in other discussions – and the lack in education of the users community.
Some pressure from the utilities on the vendors community to fix the relatively few known non-conformities in existing devices and tools would help to get rid of a lot of frustrations and to reach a higher level of interoperability. Many users are – not yet – in a position to figure out which device is conformant and which is not! A lot of these issues are independent of the question optional or mandatory and could easily be solved.
Recommendation #1:
People implementing and using the standard need (more) education.
Recommendation #2:
See recommendation #1.
Some discussion on Education.
Read statement of Vattenfall on Education for IEC 61850 [2007!!]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Beck IPC mit IEC 60870-5-104 und IEC 61850 auf der SPS/IPC/Drives in Nürnberg

Wenn Ihnen die Themen E-Mobility, Smart Metering und Smart Grid via IEC 61850 und IEC 60870-5-104 sowie M2M Kommunikation schon einmal begegnet sind, dann sollten Sie sich unbedingt die Beck com.tom Produkte ansehen:

we bring the Industry to Internet

Sie finden Beck IPC auf der SPS/IPC/Drives in Nürnberg:
vom 27. - 29. November
in Halle 9, Stand 341

Ein kostenloses Gastticket steht unter folgendem Link als Download zur Verfügung:

Urgently Needed: A Dumber, Tougher Grid

A “request” published by the famous IEEE Spectrum today (2012-11-21) asks for a

Dumber and Tougher Electric Grid !!


“Since the hurricane and “nor’easter” that devastated the New Jersey and New York coasts two weeks ago, leaving millions without heat, gasoline and electricity, there has been a lot of loose talk about how a smarter grid might moderate the effects of such catastrophes in the future.

The smart grid will indeed have a role to play—especially in speeding recovery. As Massoud Amin of the University of Minnesota recently put it, “a more resilient, secure and smarter infrastructure…would localize impacts and enable a speedier restoration of the services.

However, what we need even more urgently than a more agile and interactive grid incorporating advanced computing and communications in all dimensions is a grid that’s basically old-fashioned, stupid and really, really tough. … brittle wooden electricity poles would be replaced with stronger steel poles, or the distribution lines …”

My personal experience is that many “dump” people have not allowed many “smart(er)” people to exactly to do that: replace xx by yy … very often they were not allowed to do so! To make the system more robust is known form more than 130 years!!

Read paper on “Smart Grids – A 19th century invention”

“Since the 19th century engineers have developed, tested, used on a large-scale and continuously improved suitable solutions for the safe and reliable operation of the rapidly growing supply of ever more applications with electrical energy. During the sustained further development of the supply systems, it is necessary to handle the available resources (energy sources, technical installations and individuals with experience) as well as the laws of physics both responsibly and in a "smart" manner.”

The rallying cry should be: to do this (replacement of poles and “dump” people, … ) and not stop doing the other (implementing smart(er) equipment and smarter ways to deal with energy and especially electric power).

While I am writing these lines I listen to a radio report telling that part of the city Karlsruhe (my home town) is in dark: a huge blackout … electricians are on their way to check substations what has caused the outage … they recommended to have a flash lighter at hand – just in case … one of two transformers tripped … they are working on the other to take over …

News on Karlsruhe blackout (German only).

More to come … I mean more outages to come … have a flash light in all rooms … in your car …

Smart(er) Grids in Denmark – supported by IEC 61850

Denmark says, that it is a world leader when it comes to developing tomorrow's green, flexible and intelligent power system - a power system where the generation, transport and consumption of power is linked intelligently.

The power system will become the backbone of the energy system of tomorrow, featuring completely new electricity-generation sources and new types of electricity consumption - a power system characterized by flexible generation and a high level of renewables.

IEC 61850 and IEC 61970 (CIM) are part of tomorrows Danish energy system.

Download comprehensive Brochure “Smart Grid in Denmark 2.0”:



Internationally, two standards for Smart Grids are singled out in particular, each including a number of part-standards and related standards. One is the IEC 61850 standard, which was originally developed for substations but which has today been developed to cover a wide range of other areas, e.g. DER units. The information model in IEC 61850 is based on the so-called Logical Nodes, whereby information can be structured in a harmonized way. The other standard is the IEC 61970 standard, which was originally developed for control centre environments, but which today, via related standards, covers a wide range of system activities in the power system, for example electricity markets. The information model in IEC 61970 is called the Common Information Model - CIM.

Further information and links could be found here.

Get ready for Edition 2 of IEC 61850 Core Standards - One Day Presentation

TÜV SÜD Embedded Systems (Munich) offers a one day presentation titled:

Get ready for Edition 2 of the IEC 61850 Core Standards

One Day Training on IEC 61850 includes a the visit to the TÜV SÜD Embedded Systems Level A Lab:

December 13th, 2012
Munich (Germany)

Edition 2 of the IEC 61850 Core Standards have been already published (part 4, 6, 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, 7-4, 7-410, 8-1, 9-2) and part 10 (Conformance Testing) will be published by the end of 2012. Whether you have an already certified Device or you are planning to develop a new implementation, the new aspects of Edition 2 of the IEC 61850 Core Standards have to be considered, because it will soon become a major market differentiator.

Download program and registration information for the IEC 61850 training [pdf]

See you there soon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Are RTUs dead?

Which definition of RTUs do you mean? Do you mean Reach The Universe? Yes, these RTUs will live forever. Let me know what you mean by RTU.

When we talk about RTUs, we should differentiate between functions, I/Os and processor platform. In the past (some 10 years ago) an RTU was more or less well defined by its functions, I/O wires/terminals and platforms. Many of them are still in use and a lot more will be installed in the years to come.

Today we have many many more functions (those we know well, and those we could think of), hardwired I/Os, serial I/Os (Ethernet, ...), hierarchies of I/Os (or RTUs or just IEDs), and many more very powerful platforms.

Whenever we talk about an RTU, we should list the functions it implements, hardwired I/Os, serial I/Os (Ethernet, ...), hierarchies of I/Os (or RTUs or just IEDs), and the powerful platform. I have seen yesterday a substation ruggedized box with an 8 port Ethernet switch, some 20 I/O wired terminals, with IEC 61850 and other protocols, and programmable applications (C/C++, IEC 61131-3 CoDeSys, simple web PLC). Is this box an RTU, a bay controller, a PLC, a gateway, a substation computer, (condition) monitoring device, an Ethernet Switch? Its a bit of everything!

In my experience utility people use a new name for the "interface" to a substation: Substation Gateway.

In any case we should describe what we mean by a term (e.g., RTU), and should describe any box independent of its name.

"Names are sound and smoke", it says in Goethe's Faust. To make sure this is not the case, companies are putting a lot of money on name inventors. The name RTU was invented some 20+ years ago - a good name so far. We can keep the name - but have to define what we mean.

What do you think about this interpretation: RTU = Reach The Universe (of a substation or power plant or ...). That is broad enough to cover everything.

We have tried many times to find a name for IEC 61850 - we failed so far. We should not try anymore to find a name. A single name would mis-lead. If we talk about IEC 61850 we have to clearly describe what we mean!! Just saying: My device conforms to IEC 61850 doesn't mean anything. What does IEC 61850 Edition 2 mean? Nothing!! There is NO IEC 61850 Edition 2 at all! What? See some discussion:


The issue is that the semantic is carried by a name. The semantic MUST be defined by somebody. If many definitions exist then we have to be very careful. Ask always what people mean by RTU, IEC 61850 Edition 2, Fizzlipuzzli, ... You belief to know what RTU and IEC 61850 Edition 2 mean. Are you sure? And you agree, that you do not know what Fizzlipuzzli means (except a few people that know me). I don't know what Fizzlipuzli means either. ;-) ... it is something nobody knows. I use it for a function or a device to make sure that nobody associates it with something real he/she knows.

During the first meetings of the IEC 61400-25 (IEC 61850 extensions for wind turbines) we had a serious discussion on "Reports" ... we could not reach an agreement. Because I was discussing the IEC 61850 Report(ing Model). The other person discussed a Report from a turbine containing 10 minute statistical values of wind speed and power produced etc. That's the reason lawyers first define the terms they use in a contract!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Less than 200 Outages in New York still to be repaired

As of today (Friday, 2012-11-16 05:00 a.m.) there are 168 outages left to be repaired.

Updates could be found here.

Security: Is SCADA the next Playground for Hackers?

The number of vulnerabilities in the SCADA world keeps on growing rapidly in 2012. The number of security flaws found within ten months is far bigger than the number of flaws found during the whole previous period starting from 2005.

This is something that should worry all of us – from shareholder to managers and technical people all over. After Stuxnet, it looks like that SCADA systems are one of the next targets of hackers.

Download an up-to-date paper on “SCADA Safety in Numbers” [pdf, 2 MB]

Keep going to convince your management, … to be more serious with regard to SCADA and other automation systems security!

Doing nothing is not an option!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What does a PIXIT provide?

PIXIT stands for “Protocol Implementation eXtra Information for Testing”. The objective is to provide crucial information for the test lab.

One example is the value for the “Maximum number of clients that can set-up a 2-party association simultaneously”, e.g., value=16. Does this mean that the maximum number of clients is restricted to 16? No! The value of 16 is used by the Testlab to run test cases. The number can be much bigger!

The PIXIT document for a SystemCorp IEC 61850 IED lists for the stack/API ina value of 16 – BUT the stack/API and the IED supports up to 255 clients!

If you want to know what a device supports, you should read technical specifications of the IED. A lot of vendors use the PIXIT also as a kind of technical specification. The PIXIT documents should contain a note that the values given in the PIXIT document may be restricted for testing purposes only. PIXIT documents should also show the limits of the IED when applied in real applications.

Download PIXIT Document for a specific IED.

Gezielte Kostensenkung in Offshore-Windparks durch IEC 61400-25

BTC (eine100%-Tochter der EWE) hat auf der Husum WindEnergy 2012 über den Einsatz von (unter anderem) IEC 61400-25 berichtet.

Titel der Präsentation: Gezielte Kostensenkung in der Betriebsphase von Offshore- Windparks durch IT-Unterstützung

IEC 61400-25 liefert einen Beitrag zur Kostensenkung:

“Um die Werte über unterschiedliche Anlagen und Parks hinweg vergleichbar zu machen, werden die Daten auf Kanäle eines harmonisierten Datenmodells gemappt, das nach IEC 61400-25 aufgebaut ist.”

A typical model for the WGEN (Wind Generator) is depicted in the following figure:


This model (from IEC 61400-25-2, and extended by the vendor) is completely defined by an SCL file (excerpt for Speed and Temperature):


Download der gesamten Präsentation von BTC [pdf].

IEC 61850 certified products as per June 2012

KEMA has recently published an updated Test Register (version 2012-
06-18). Since version 2011-11-28 the following IEDs have been tested:

2 new Clients and 40 new servers

Click HERE for the complete list [pdf]

Friday, November 2, 2012

More than 15.000 Outages in New York to be repaired

Huricane Sandy (October 2012) has hit the power delivery system of Con Edison New York. A few days later (2012-11-03) there are still more than 15.000 outages to be repaired! Take into account that several 100.000 transformers are part of the whole system. According to the Annual report 2011 Con Edison of New York Electric Operations added or replaced more than 3,200 transformers in 2011!!

The affected areas are listed on a interactive map. See excerpt:

Outages on 2012-11-03 (the map below shows the situation on this date):

Progress has been made to get power back to all:

on 2012-11-04 (11.30 p.m.):
on 2012-11-13 (12:17 a.m.):
on 2012-11-16 (05:01 a.m.):
on 2012-12-20 (10:00 a.m.):


Source: Con Edison

Visit the complete interactive Map of outages (updated every few minutes).

A brief overview of the CON EDISON SYSTEM AND LIC power system could be found here [pdf].

I wish the New Yorkers and any other people that this impact on a power system will not happen any more!