Friday, April 19, 2013

Is IEC 61850 still there?

A very interesting discussion was started by a retired substation protection and automation engineer from one of the big German transmission operators. The engineer stopped at the boot 45/1 (hall 13) at the Hannover Messe last week. He saw the letters “IEC 61850” (see photo) and asked me: “Is IEC 61850 still around?”


He thought that IEC 61850 was just a hype some 10 years ago. His expectation was that IEC61850 is far to complex and expensive … and disappeared before it really hit the market. One of his babies was a very well know IEC 60870-5-101 profile for substation automation. In this profile you will find a nice “information model” of substations:


Ok, that is what many (not only retired) engineers guess. I helped him to understand the current situation of the big success of IEC 61850 all over.

Then I showed him an embedded Controller IED (Beck com.tom) that integrates IEC 61850 AND IEC 610870-5-104 (running separate or both at the same time):


This small box runs both … and it’s really affordable.

Then I showed him the requirement specification of Vattenfall’s VHP Ready that specifies both: IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850:


There is almost no difference between the implementation of the information and services in both worlds. The difference is just, that IEC 61850 has standard models, a configuration language, GOOSE, SMV, and self-description. The price of a com.tom with 104 or 61850 is (I guess) the same.

Finally he said: “I am a consultant to a manufacturer of substation automation and protection systems; I have to tell them this story! They will like it – because they have already enquiries for IEC 61850 conformant IEDs.”

There is a need to educate more engineers to understand the situation!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

High speed wireless support for IEC 61850 GOOSE

Full Spectrum Inc. (Palo Alto, California) announced yesterday a new version of its wireless communications software which supports the utility industry’s IEC 61850 Generic Object Oriented Substation Event protocol (also known as “GOOSE”). The protocol is designed to reduce the scope and impact of power outages by implementing instantaneous and intelligent switching decisions without human intervention. It is a critical element in the implementation of the self-healing smart grid. To date IEC 61850 has been deployed primarily at electric utility substations over high capacity fiber connections. The challenge, until now, has been to operate the high capacity, low latency protocol over wireless infrastructure. Full Spectrum’s IEC 61850 wireless support includes custom compression and quality of service algorithms to address this challenge.
Full Spectrum’s new software release allows the IEC 61850 protocol to be pushed deep into the distribution electric grid where wired infrastructure is not cost effective to install and maintain. With IEC 61850 intelligent devices along the distribution grid, sensors can isolate faults and reroute power almost instantaneously. The implementation of IEC 61850 greatly reduces the number of customers impacted by outages. This is especially important for industrial and commercial power users where even brief power outages can be costly and dangerous.

Click HERE to download the press release on GOOSE.

Italian Norm CEI 0-16 revised – now referring to IEC 61850

The Italian Norm CEI 0-16 has been revised and published end of 2012. The new norm (High and Medium Voltage) refers to IEC 61850 – similar compared to CEI 0-21 (Low Voltage). The norm even requires GOOSE messaging … more to come.

Regola tecnica di riferimento per la connessione di Utenti attivi e
passivi alle reti AT ed MT delle imprese distributrici di energia elettrica

(Reference technical rules for the connection of active and passive
consumers to the HV and MV electrical networks of distribution Company)

Click HERE to download the norm CEI 0-16 [Italian, pdf, 3.1 MB]

Click HERE for Information on CEI 0-21.

The German Roadmap E-Energy/Smart Grid 2.0 available

The German Roadmap E-Energy/Smart Grid 2.0 has been published recently. The 82 page document gives an overview about the status of many projects that had been involved in recent years: IEC, DKE, …

One key standard mentioned more than 20 times is (of course): IEC 61850. The Web2Energy project is introduced as a project that intensively uses IEC 61850.

Download the German Roadmap E-Energy/Smart Grid 2.0 (English version) (pdf, 8.5 MB)

Download the German Roadmap E-Energy/Smart Grid 2.0 (German version) (pdf, 4.3 MB)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday at Hannover Messe

Today (10 April 2013) was the busiest of the first three days. People … people, people walked the rows. Even more people than the other days stopped at the booth of TQ Systems, Beck IPC and SystemCorp. There was a huge interest in learning how to get IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, IEC 60870-5-104, DNP3, Modbus … integrated into IEDs.


One of the most interesting questions asked today was from a small company that was looking for IEC 61850 software to be included for a substation switchgear drive system. The person I talked to said: IEC 61850 is very complex and we have figured out that the integration would cost some 100,000 Euro (one hundred thousand!) !! He asked me about my opinion.

My response was: It could be even more than 100.000 Euro – if you do it wrong! But it could be in the range of less than a tenth of that amount: some 5.000 Euro may be sufficient to get it running and integrated in the application … it all depends …

The Alarm Annunciator system developed by EES (Backnang, Germany) is one of the companies that recently implemented IEC 61850 within a few days … this integration proves that it is feasible in very short time.

Detlef Raddatz (SystemCorp, left) and Uwe Scholz (EES) in front of the display that shows the topology:


… it’s me (left) …


EES presented a nice “power box” that promised that you reach the “finishing line” with IEC 61850 faster than without!



TQ System’s products were well received by many visitors.


Some companies were quite fast in immediately ordering the IEC 61850 stack/API solution during the fair – there is a lot of pressure in various markets to make smart IEDs speaking IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 … fast-to-market and at a reasonable price.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What happened today at Hannover Messe?

The second day at the Hannover Messe was a quite interesting one. Many people came by and asked for IEC 61850 to be applied for building SYSTEMS that help to bring together PV Power, storages, Combined Heat and Power, Loads, Heating systems, … The time has come where many more people are looking for support to integrate many of these individual “pieces” into smarter systems!

IEC 61850 is about to play a major role in this regard. Many interested companies showed up and asked for a simple and easy integration of IEC 61850 into their applications (devices) … After a first wave of devices that used IEC 61850 one way or the other (roughly from 2004 to 2012), there is now a new wave coming that requires simple and easy to integrate solutions.

I have heard from several experts that they have tried to use IEC 61850 the recent years – and failed because it was too costly for their applications. Many of them are now back and checking again to get IEC 61850 integrated into their IEDs. Guess they will get what they are looking for. Most of them want just to use IEC 61850 – not struggle with the implementation (integration) of it.

More to come tomorrow and the other days. Many people have reported that IEC 61850 is an issue at many more booths in 2013 than last year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

IEC 61850 – Brief Report from first day at Hannover Messe 2013

The Hannover Messe has opened today (Monday, 08 April 2013). Some 6,800 exhibitors demonstrate their industrial products from industrial fieldbusses and PLCs to Power Generation and Power System Automation and Protection.

I am personally involved (as a Missionary for IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, IEC 60870-5-104, DNP3, Modbus, …) in helping interested people at the booth of TQ Systems, Beck IPC and SystemCorp to get a brief introduction of IEC 61850, answering questions and helping them to navigate trough the above standards … mainly: How to get from standards to market-ready products!

There was a lot of interest in the solutions the three companies could provide. Many people just stopped at the booth and were excited to see how easy it is these days to get their IEDs and systems to speak the above standard communication languages!

In case you are visiting the Hannover Messe this week, please come by at booth C45/1 in hall 13.

Download the information package I am giving away at the Hanover Messe this week [pdf, 4.3 MB].

Some impressions:

Building up the booth


… does it fit Detlef? Yes!


… smart people to install smart devices:


… Wow ! It is all working according to IEC 61850 … it’s REAL !


… ruggedized IEC 61850 gateway to Modbus:


TQ Systems HMI with IEC 61850 Client:


Beck IPC Products:


Any question … when you see this price for a special RTU?


The com.tom also supports DNP3, IEC 61850, Modbus, …

IEC 61400-25 - Poster from REpower at AWEA Windpower 2013

REpower is presenting an excellent poster about the application of IEC 61400-25 at the AWEA Windpower conference in Chicago (IL) in May 2013.

The poster concludes:

IEC 61400-25 is a new standard for Wind Turbine communications. It can
facilitate and simplify the integration of new wind projects in a multiple-vendor,
multiple-system industry.
From the experience of the author of this article, the adoption of IEC 61400-
25 by customers in new projects in the last year has been 100%
. All new
projects with REpower turbines in North America selected this interface.
The most benefit will be made once a critical mass of manufacturers, wind
farms owners, and equipment providers will use and support it.
This communication standard is needed for the wind industry to become
more efficient and competitive with traditional power sources.

Downlad the IEC 61400-25 poster [pdf, 370 KB]

… more to come.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Open Source C-Code for IEC 61850

Some six weeks ago I reported about the open source Java code for IEC 61850. The group that developed the Java code has now also published the open source C code.

“In cases where Java is not an option (e.g. if you want to implement a server on very resource constrained systems) you can also consider libiec61850 which is an alternative implementation in C.”

libIEC61850 provides a simple API for MMS. This API is in no way specific to IEC 61850 but provides a generic MMS client API.

This MMS API seems to be an option in case you have to decide to use (on one side) Modbus, DNP3, Fieldbus, or CAN in Automation OR (on the other side) to use IEC 61850. It may help you to get started with IEC 61850. There is no reason anymore not to start with IEC 61850!! The cost argument has gone.

As a Siemens employee I wrote two remarkable papers on the standardization:
one about the future of Fieldbusses/MMS and one about MAP/MMS in 1991:

Click HERE for the paper “Fieldbus standardization: Another way to go”
[PDF, 720 KB].

Click HERE for the paper “Bridging MAP/MMS to Ethernet” [PDF, 720 KB]

It took some 30 years from the fist baby steps to the availability of open source MMS code and other IEC 61850 solutions like the one from SystemCorp that is quite powerful and comprehensive. The time where you have to pay high (“voltage”) prices is over! “High voltage” refers to the application domain high voltage substations – the domain that first used IEC 61850 some 10 or 15 years ago.

IEC 61850 as a kind of template for Modbus based SunSpec Standard

The standard IEC 61850 has influenced other groups defining domain specific standards like IETF EMAN (Energy Management) and SunSpec Alliance. I have reported on the IETF EMAN group in March 2012. The SunSpec Alliance is new to me. So I browsed a bit their website and figured out that they have “copied” parts of the IEC 61850 information models, remodeled them and mapped them to Modbus registers.

Example: The electrical measurements from logical node MMXU (right) have been used by SunSpec (smdx_00101.xml) to some extent:


Unfortunately the names are slightly different! “PPV.phsAB” in IEC 61850 and “PPVphAB” in sunspec … I would have expected that the names (that carry the semantic) are the same! This would make the mapping between the two worlds much simpler --> reducing the costs …


Path could map to the following Modbus address (as an element inside the value … using the SystemCorp IEC 61850 stack/API):


The mapping of the IEC 61850 model to Modbus could be easily specified in the corresponding SCL file as Private Elements!! This could even be done automatically if the models (the names and semantic) in both standards would be equivalent!! Then a gateway device could offer both protocols (IEC 61850 and Modbus) running at the same time using a SINGLE specification file!

IMHO this is putting some soft pressure on IEC 61850 community! Why? Because why are the vendors implementing SunSpec not using IEC 61850 (the mother of SunSpec … to some extend)? One reason seems to be that it is not easy (and not for free) to get the models for PV applications. Another issue is that the implementations of IEC 61850 stacks/APIs are in some cases too expensive for these vendors.

Fortunately there is a solution available that provides a full set of services and support of any model specified in SCL notation: The SystemCorp Stack/API. There is a free of charge IEC 61850 DLL (for server and clients) available that runs for six months … enough time to evaluate the solution.

With the approach shown above we have implemented a device that is configured by SCL and that runs an IEC 61850 server AND an IEC 60870-5-104 slave at the same time (running on Beck IPC com.tom)!

Please come by at the booth 45/1 in Hall 13 at the Hannover Messe next week.