Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First day of DistribuTECH in San Diego

This year’s DistribuTECH exhibition seems to have a lot more booths than before. The huge hall has 34 rows full of large and small booths. When you walk the floor you see many products that provide IEC 61850 connectivity.


A lot of people I spoke to are in the process of developing IEC 61850 connectivity or are planning to do so in the near future.

The UCAIUG booth 1648 was visited by may people from all over:


The annual meeting of the UCAIUG IEC 61850 group focused on testing. The experiences show that IEC 61850 conformance tests are an absolute must for IEDs that claim to be conformant. But: The focus on testing will definitely move towards interoperability testing.

TÜV SÜD reported about their experience with testing. They are a strong supporter of interoperability testing. TÜV SÜD could play a major role in defining the needed requirements and rules and they could be a major organization to setting up test facilities.

ENTSO-E’s activity to get involved in the quality improvement process of the standard and conformant products is welcome throughout the industry.

ENTSO-E has published a Research and Development Roadmap for the next 20 … 30 years. Communication infrastructure is one of the key elements in the future power delivery system.

Download the Roadmap. [pdf, 1.7 MB]

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

IEC 61850 and other protocols on embedded Platform

Beck IPC has launched a new website for their ready-to-go modules Com.Tom supporting many protocols to build a variety of applications that need to communicate through appropriate channels. The new website is now open in English as well:


The core component of these boxes is the Beck IPC Chip that runs many protocols. Stack/API libraries for Protocols like IEC 60870-5-104, IEC 61850, Modbus, CANbus and many others are available and tested in applications.

See References:


More to come soon.

These IEDs allow to implement various applications that require IEC 60870-5-104 or IEC 61850 connectivity or gateways in a short-time-to-market development. The protocol stacks come with an ready-to-go API. The APIs are using the same approach of Calls and Callback functions to be used by application software.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Use of IEC 61850 for Electrical Systems Monitoring and Control in the Oil and Gas Industry

Laurent Guise and Patrick Montignies both from Schneider Electric Industries (Grenoble, France) have discussed the use of IEC 61850 for Electrical System Monitoring and Control Systems in the Oil and Gas Industry. The results can be found in a nice paper some years ago.

“Crucial industrial sites such as for Oil and Gas plants are requesting more and more monitoring and control of their electrical installation to increase the electricity availability of their process while optimizing the cost of operation.

While willing to implement an Electrical Monitoring and Control System (EMCS), users face the issue of choosing the right communication technology.

By the way an emerging technology – IEC 61850 – appears on the market. This technology promises real interoperability, while offering unprecedented capabilities for reducing the wiring and increasing the installation agility. Are all these promises a reality? What would be the most pragmatic way for taking the maximum benefits of this new technology while minimizing the risk? The object of this paper is to make a point of technology maturity, to identify the real benefits, but also some potential drawbacks.”

In the conclusion the authors state: “Is there a value to choose IEC 61850 for EMCS application? … there are definitely a lot of reasons for considering positively the usage of IEC 61850.”

Access the complete paper on IEC 61850 for Electrical System Monitoring and Control [pdf]

Today, a few years after the paper was published, we can state that the situation has been improved since then. Especially the availability of mature products for monitoring and control of any kind of processes and equipment installed in the many electrical systems make it easy these days to implement IEC 61850 in short time to market – and for a reasonable price.

To build a Gateway between IEC 61850 and any typically used RTU protocol is as easy as riding a bike.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lite Gateway IEC 61850 to IEC 60870-5-104 at DistribuTECH in San Diego

NettedAutomation will demonstrate the following lite Gateway between IEC 61850 (process level with various I/Os) and IEC 60870-5-104 (RTU) at the DistribuTECH next week (29.-31. January 2013) in San Diego (booth 1648):


The components (HW and SW) can be used to build many useful topologies:

  • Gateway IEC 61850 (client) to IEC 60870-5-104 (slave) – as shown in the picture
  • Gateway IEC 60870-5-104 (master) to IEC 61850 (server)
  • Gateway many serial links to IEC 60870-5-104 (slave)
  • The two software packages from SystemCorp running on these platforms (IEC 61850 stack/API and IEC 60870-5-104 stack/API) can be used in any combination and with many communication channels (Ethernet, GSM GPRS, WiFi, Bluetooth, …).
  • The IEC 61850 server could – of course – be accessed directly by a remote client.
  • Other protocols are available.

The box in the middle is a Com.Tom Radio 2.0 and the right box is a development kit DK61.

The following signals (data model) will be demonstrated:


I look forward to meeting you at the DistribuTECH in San Diego (CA) next week.

If you need help in using these lite components, please let us know.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Is IEC 61850 held hostage by interoperability issues?

NO! There are in some cases minor issues that may have some impact on interoperability. In general: Interoperability at the communication level is provided!

Farel Becker and Andre Smit just published a paper with the title: “IEC 61850 feeds grid protection and control”.

They ask: “IEC 61850 has been under scrutiny recently with claims of interoperability. But, are these claims valid? Can IEC 61850 improve and enhance protection and control system design today, or is it held hostage by interoperability?”

They conclude: “The functions and features, namely the use of GOOSE messages, made available today by the IEC 61850 standard can be used to greatly improve current substation and other application designs and help realize new methodologies to better protect, control and automate the smart electrical grid of the future. This, in itself, far outweighs perceived interoperability issues and keeps the industry on track to eliminate copper wires and expand system functionality and capabilities.”

Read the complete paper “IEC 61850 feeds grid protection and control”.

Well written.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Discount for Training one day prior to DistribuTECH 2013 San Diego (CA)

Discount for Training one day prior to DistribuTECH 2013 San Diego (CA):

TÜV SÜD conducts a One Day Seminar on IEC 61850 Edition 2, Security and Certification:

San Diego (CA)
January 28, 2013
(Monday, the day before the DistribuTech 2013 opens).

Please note the deeply discounted fee of 250 USD !!!


Please contact us to get the discounted fee.

Friday, January 18, 2013

SCADA Security at Iberdrola – Be serious about Security!

Iberdrola has been awarded a 2012 European SCADA Security Innovation Award.

“Iberdrola is the largest energy company in Spain and operates multiple types of energy production plants (gas, coal, water, eolic, nuclear) in multiple countries in the European Union and Latin America. … The history of Iberdrola is one of innovation. In early 2000 Iberdrola decided to create the CMDS, a 24x7 Monitoring Center for the operations of their Critical Infrastructure. Inside the scope of the CMDS, and with a codename of AURA, a long-term security program for the in-depth security of their SCADA networks was put in motion. … In 2011, Iberdrola started two of the latest and most innovative projects to date: AURA.MARS and AURA CONSEG. ...”

Read the press release from SANS.

Comprehensive presentation from Iberdrola “Step by Step: The Journey to Secure SCADA Systems” [pdf, 5,3 MB]

It is really crucial to be serious about Security!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

IEC 61850 Extensions for Fault Passage Indications (FPI)

First Committee Draft (38/436A/CD) of IEC 62689-1 accepted by end of 2012: Current and Voltage sensors or detectors, to be used for fault passage indication purposes - Part 1: “General principles and requirements”.

This standard will introduce a dedicated (extended) IEC 61850 namespace (based on existing and new Logical Nodes and Data Objects) to support integration of FPIs into power utility automation. In addition, it defines different profiles of communication interfaces to support the different cases of usage of these FPIs. Some of these cases of usage relies on the “concept” of extended substation, which is intended as the communication among IEDs through IEC 61850 located both along MV feeders and in the main substation, for most sophisticated FPIs version (for smart grids applications, for instance). Then such profile may not be limited to FPI devices, but may embrace features needed to support extensions of these substations along the MV feeder connected to the main substation themselves.

The scope of this standard is to define the minimum requirements for Fault Passage Indicators (FPIs) which are devices able to detect faults, on networks from 1 kV up to 52 kV, providing indications about their localization (upstream or downstream the FPI’s location) or about the direction of fault current. The localization (upstream or downstream) or the direction of the fault current may be detected directly from the FPI and/or from a central system using information from more FPIs and/or considering the features of the feeder/network where the FPI is installed (for instance in case of over-currents in radial operated networks without GD or in case of phase to earth faults in solid earthed radial operated systems).

Part 2 of the standard series will contain the dedicated (extended) IEC 61850 namespace (based on existing and new Logical Nodes and Data Objects).

IEC 61850 as Digital Interface for Instrument Transformers

The CDV (Committee Draft for Voting) of IEC 61869-9: Instrument Transformers - Part 9: “Digital interface for instrument transformers” is out for ballot and comments until 2013-03-01.

This document will replace and extend the so-called “9-2LE” that defines the first profile (or subset) of IEC 61850 for voltage and current sensors (Merging Units).

The new standard is based on experience gained since the publication of “9-2LE”. There are a lot of new details in the configuration and description of the information models defined – in order to reduce the number of options.

The IEC 61869-9 standard will (when published):

  • Replace IEC 60044-8 digital solution.
  • Provide a product standard for instrument transformers with a digital interface according
    to 61850; similar to what IEC 62271-3 is doing for switchgear.
  • Be backward compatible with the UCA International Users Group’s Guideline for Digital Interface to Instrument Transformers Using IEC 61850
  • Use IEC 61588-Ed2 for time synchronization, with an option for 1PPS.
  • Be applicable for AC and DC measurements.
  • Be using 100 Mbit/s or 1 Gbit/s Ethernet.
  • Specify 4.800 digital output sample rate with 2 sets of values per message (2.400 messages/s) for general measuring and protective accuracy classes, regardless of the
    power system frequency.
  • Specify 14.400 digital output sample rate with 6 sets of values per message (2.400 messages/s) for quality metering accuracy class, regardless of the power system frequency.
  • Specify 96.000 digital output sample rate with 1 set of values per message (96.000 messages/s) for DC instrument transformer applications [likely to using high speed Ethernet end-to-end].

Proposed conformance classes are (with detailed PICS in the draft):

  • class a: the minimal set of services required to transmit MU data using sampled values;
  • class b: class a capabilities plus the minimal set of services required to support GOOSE
  • class c: class b capabilities plus the implementation of the IEC 61850 series’ information
    model self-descriptive capabilities;
  • class d: class c capabilities plus services for file transfer and either one or more of
    unbuffered reporting, buffered reporting, or logging.

IEC 61850 Extensions for Control Systems in Thermal Power Plant

Part 90-13 of the IEC 61850 series is under way. The draft document specifies the additional common data classes, logical nodes and data objects required for the use of IEC 61850 in Thermal Power Plants.

Some years ago the power plant control systems started to connect to the power plant internal power delivery system for the power loads inside a power plant.

In a whitepaper dated 2007 Joerg Orth, ABB AG, Mannheim, published an interesting white paper on the connection between the two systems based on IEC 61850: “Future power plant control - Integrating process & substation automation into one system”

“Today’s power plants are highly automated. All subsystems of large thermal power plants can be controlled from a central control room. One subsystems area is the electrical auxiliaries for the unit transformer, the grid connection, excitation, synchronization, generator/unit protection, auxiliary transformers, HV-, MV- and LV-switchgear. In the past, these electrical devices were all hardwired to the DCS and I/Os. To this day, horizontal communication between electrical devices is still hardwired. In the last decade, serial communication protocols were introduced. Unfortunately, standardization of these protocols went in different directions. Today there are several standards on the market. … The future is talking IEC 61850 providing solutions for seamless integration concepts for new and refurbishment projects.”

These days the development goes a step further: IEC 61850 extensions for power plant internal (!) control functions. This is a new approach for internal control functions, because it has an impact on the power plant control system – not only on the internal and external substations.

The current draft of IEC 61850-90-13 defines, for example the following specific Logical Nodes for Thermal Power Plants:

EJCL Power plant joint control function.
ESEQ Start / stop sequencer.
ESPD Speed monitoring.
EGTU Gas turbine production unit.
EUNT Thermal unit operating mode.
ESTU Steam turbine production unit.
For some data objects see below
EBCL Boiler control function.
MENV Environmental data
MGAS Gas-flow measurement.
MOIL Oil-flow measurement.
MSTE Steam-flow measurement.
MEXH Exhaust Gas Mass Flow.

Draft settings of the LN ESTU (Steam turbine production unit):

Turbine type (steam, gas, oil)
Turbine rated speed [s-1]
Turbine moment of inertia J [kgm2]
Maximum transient overspeed [s-1]
Runaway speed [s-1]
Rated power in turbine mode [MW]
Rated flow in turbine mode [kg/s]
High pressure inlet maximum pressure [Pa]
Intermediate pressure inlet maximum pressure [Pa]
Low pressure inlet maximum pressure [Pa]
High pressure control valve rated oil pressure [Pa]
High pressure control valve rated closing time [s]
Intermediate pressure control valve rated oil pressure [Pa]
Intermediate pressure control valve rated closing time [s]
Low pressure control valve rated oil pressure [Pa]
Low pressure control valve rated closing time [s]

As can be seen from this example, IEC 61850 arrived at the modeling and communication of the power plant internal control system level. More to come. The draft has been written by the IEC TC 57 WG 18. It will be discussed at its next meeting in March 2013 in Nice (France). WG 18 has already published the LNs for Hydro Power Plants (IEC 61850-7-410 Ed2).

ABB Whitepaper on IEC 61850 in Power Plants written in 2007 by Joerg Orth [pdf]

IEC 61850 For Water Supply System

The Hanover water supply implements an IEC 61850 based protection and control system for a new 6 kV switchgear solution. As this example shows, IEC 61850 is used also in medium voltage power systems out side typical substations of power utilities.

Read complete report “Secured power supply for Fuhrberg waterworks with ABB switchgear and Relion® protection” [pdf]

Friday, January 11, 2013

Peak Load Shaving with Batteries – Isn’t that smart?

What does a power system make smart? Smart meters? Hm, … there are many possibilities to make the energy delivery smarter.

One interesting approach is to shave peak load with batteries. I guess this is known for decades! Isn’t it? More and more people are digging into the possibilities to do it in large scales.

A team of researchers has published an interesting paper with the title: “Using Batteries to Reduce the Power Costs of Internet-scale Distributed Networks”. They came to the conclusion that batteries could save up to a third of power costs … you don’t believe it? Read the paper:

Download paper “Using Batteries to Reduce the Power Costs of Internet-scale Distributed Networks”.

IEC 61850 based monitoring and control systems could help to get the job done! The basic tools (embedded controllers with IEC 61850 servers and clients) are available. Let’s use them. Battery models are already defined (and under development) in IEC 61850-7-420. The following is a proposal for battery management for IEC 61850-90-9:


More battery related models are underway.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Intelligent Energy Network of the Future – IT’S HERE TODAY

The project Web2Energy is one of the first projects that implements TODAY a crucial “Intelligent energy network of the future”. When the project started some years ago, the aim was far in the future. But today (early 2013): The objective of the project has already been implemented!

HSE AG (HEAG Südhessische Energie AG) invited several partners to establish a Smart Grid in their energy supply system by installation of communication links to power producers, grid terminals and the consumers.

The second year of the project was the most significant period. 4 complete work packages had to be finalized coordinated by a successful project management:

  1. Application of the IEC 61850 standard for the whole communication system
  2. Design und Architecture of the Information- and Communication Systems
  3. W2E – Control centre based on CIM – data face (Common Information model in
    accordance with IEC 61968/70)
  4. Installation of the innovative solution components and preparation of the trial

Thanks to the involvement of experienced domain and standards experts like Dr. Michael Buchholz, Christoph Brunner, Maco Jannsson, and other experts, the project has become a big success for the realization of Smart Grids and the use of IEC 61850 and IEC 61968/70 (CIM).

It was estimated that such a high volume of approvals of new solutions in the practice of distribution networks – at it is shown in the following Figure – is first time realized worldwide. It builds an important basic for the prospective dissemination of the innovations for “Smart Distribution” … based on IEC and CIM:

Source: Web2Energy

The Website of the project provides a huge number of up-to-date papers describing the project, the reached objectives, how IEC 61850 and CIM are used … to build a real Smart Grid.

Website with links to some 40 papers and reports – many about IEC 61850.

For example the paper
Seamless data communication and management over all levels of the Power Systems
by A. Naumann, B.M. Buchholz, P. Komarnicki, C. Brunner

concludes as follows:
”In the framework of the European lighthouse project WEB2Energy with 14 European partners from 6 countries the 3 pillars of Smart Distribution are first time integrated and executed in the real operations of the 20 kV distribution network of the “HEAG Südhessische Energie AG” around Darmstadt. The complete communication loop from the network control centre down to the electric sockets of the consumers is seamless closed by the strong application and the needed extensions of the communication standard system IEC 61850. … The impact of the project findings on the further work on both standard series is considered. The results of the project have a pilot character but the servers RTU and battery boxes are brought to maturity for praxis applications. These products are open for further use.”

The IEC 61850 Stack/API from SystemCorp have been used for the IEC 61850 connectivity.

The wait for Smart Grid solutions is over – thanks to Smart people applying smart standardized solutions.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hydro-Québec’s Vision in their Distribution System Automation Roadmap from 2005 becomes True

Hydro-Québec published an interesting Vision in the “Distribution System Automation Roadmap – 2005–2020” already in 2005. Now, 2013 (some eight years later) we can say that their expectation was quite written.

For the period 2015 – 2020 they expected (in 2005!) that the “Equipment interoperability standards should be completed. The controlled island and energy exchange network possibilities will be better known following the developments from 2010 to 2015, and more specific projects will be started up.” The overall communication system they expected after 2015 is IEC 61850! See figure from the Report:


Their estimation is still valid and applicable to many other utilities, countries and regions. I wish more utilities in 2013 will develop their detailed Roadmap how to get prepared for the future energy systems control and automation – if they take IEC 61850 into account or not! Installing huge amounts of IEDs and collecting 100.000’s of data points is an issue that has to be considered carefully.

Hydro-Québec implemented a huge network to “manage the 450,000 data points generated from the first phase of the project, 5 regional control centers front end systems were setup to receive the information. … more than 2000 persons are involved with the project, directly or indirectly. The sheer quantity of data produced by the pole-top devices makes it attractive and useful to a wide range of groups. … We had planned the technology side in detail and very carefully, we also had planned the human factor (we thought). Today, looking back, we realize the technology aspects have been easy to handle and work with when required, but the sheer number of people involved has created an environment which is currently slow to react. …”

Download the Case Study “Utility Automated and Integrated Data & Control for 4000 Pole-Top Switches and Protection Relays” to read more about the project” [pdf, 68 KB]

As noted several times it is crucial to understand that IEC 61850 (when it’s applied in the near future more often in the distribution world) is a solution that is intended to provide long-term unification – and that will require a “sheer number of people” that need education in how to use IEC 61850 based systems.

Haste makes Waste!!

Download the complete Roadmap dated 2005 [pdf, 1.6 MB].

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 28-31, 2013 – The next Chance to Meet you at the DistribuTech 2013 in San Diego (CA)

Just as a quick reminder, the next possibility to meet you is from January 28-31, 2013 in San Diego (CA):

- One day training with TÜV SÜD
- DistribuTech booth of the UCA International Users Group [Booth 1648]

More details could be found here.

I look forward to seeing you there.

January 01, 2013 – First Successful Use of Public Information on IEC 61850 in 2013

First of all, I hope that the New Year 2013 will bring you peace, health, success, and happiness – as well as a better understanding of IEC 61850, IEC 60870-5-10x, DNP3, IEC 62351 and how these standards can be applied to provide open and secure information exchange in the energy world.

One of my objectives in 2013 will be to continuously provide you useful information about the use of the above listed standards and related issues.

One of the first experts that retrieved 2013 useful information on IEC 61850 provided by Karlheinz Schwarz wrote me today (2013-01-01):

But I was inquisitive and was looking for more on this topic. Interestingly, I found a wonderful document, WRITTEN BY YOU, at

Page 15/16 of this document describes the matter [of statistical and historical statistical information models] clearly. I need to read this one more time to understand deeply. But I am writing this email to just to let you know that I am getting sincerely impressed with your work on IEC standard. I am feeling lucky that I am in touch with you.

Regards, …”

Thanks a lot.

Enjoy the huge source of information provided by one of the most experienced experts in the field of information exchange for energy systems.