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!

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