Sunday, October 20, 2013

Open positions in the US related to IEC 61850

It seems that there is a growing interest in applying IEC 61850 in the United States. At least there are tenth of open positions that require knowledge and experience in IEC 61850.

One states for example: “Experience with IEC 61850 compliant substation automation applications including IED configuration utilizing MMS and GOOSE protocols and network architectures.”

Click HERE for an updated list of open positions related to IEC 61850.

More to come.

Security Measures in Power Grids – often ignored

Vulnerabilities in the automation of power grids are more often on the radar screen of information and control system experts. It seems that some people are using the situation of aging infrastructures to make money with finger-pointing to the vulnerabilities of implementations of protocols like DNP3 or others. Or is it just fun to discover “holes” in the often low level secured information and communication systems?

Click HERE for a report (Electrical Grid Is Called Vulnerable to Power Shutdown) in The New York Times.

There are – in my view – two crucial issues (among other) when it comes to security measures for information exchange systems in power systems:

1. Lack in Expertise
2. Lack in Resources

There are a lot of discussions regarding aging infrastructures these days. I hope the discussions will have a real impact of securing our infrastructures, especially the electrical power system delivery systems!

Open standard protocols allow remote access to a lot of critical systems like substations or power generation sites. ENEL (Italian Power Company) operates some 400.000 Substations worldwide – some 100.000 are remotely monitored. So, 300.000 substations cannot be reached by protocols. Hundreds of protocols may be in use in the power industry. This makes it quite hard to easily break into most of the substations worldwide. With the application of standards like IEC 60870-5-104, DNP3, Modbus IP, or IEC 61850 this will change soon.

The most secure protocol is the protocol that has never implemented or used! With the acceptance of a few open protocols it is quite obvious that security measures HAVE to be put in place to secure the information exchange to some reasonable degree!

Stakeholders of power utilities have to become MORE aware of the situation of the vulnerabilities in the automation of power grids! A aging bridge may be closed – and you have to detour a bit … but a blackout of a part of the electrical power delivery system due to a lack in security may end in a crucial disaster, leaving us out of power for hours and even days.

It is worth to spend more time and resources in securing all our infrastructures – first of all the electric power delivery system. Without power: no telecommunications, no transportation, no …

The well known IEC 61850 platform “BECK IPC Chip” used in many applications provides secure communication as integrated part of the real-time operating system!

It is not sufficient to know that IEDs are available that provide a reasonable level of security: YOU MUST understand and USE such solutions!!

The architecture of the chip includes security measures:


Click HERE to request more information on the security measures implemented in the RTOS and applicable for IEC 6870-5-104 and IEC 61850.

There is no need to wait for secure IEC 61850 communication! It is here.

New IEC 61850/UCAIUG Test Labs accredited

17 Aug 2013
Level A - IEC 61850 Server
Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI)
111, Hanggaul-ro, Sangnok-gu, Ansan-si,
Gyeonggi-do, 426-910, Republic of Korea

15 Oct 2013
Level A - IEC 61850 Client
Korea Testing Laboratory
87, Digital 26-gil, Guro-gu, Seoul, Korea

15 Oct 2013
Level A - IEC 61850 Conformance Testing for Edition 2 Server Products
KEMA Nederland B.V.
Utrechtseweg 310
6812 AR Arnhem

The number of tested and certified IEDs (2013-10-18):

  33 Clients (Ed1)
367 Server (Ed1)
   2 Server (Ed2)
  11 Merging Units (9-2LE)

Monday, October 14, 2013

World Standards Day 2013 – October 14

Did you know that there is a world standards day? I didn’t!

I searched a bit and found a nice web page:

The results of the World Standards Day 2013 poster competition encouraged me to discuss a bit time and power!

The first price was won by Frederica Scott Vollrath (Germany):

This is really describing what IEC 61850 does: let the power flow through a lot of interrelated gear wheels.

It is one of the most interesting, albeit most challenging aspects of the future power system development because there must be a guarantee that all aspects and tasks of the functions and information sharing services will mesh together like the teeth of gear wheels!!

Well done poster!!

I visited the other day a museum with several of our grand sons (Dynamikum). We saw the following set of 18 gear wheels:


The top wheel is driven by a motor with 250 rpm and 26.5 Watt:


The motor drives the first wheel (large), the first (small) drives the second (large), and so on.


The questions are:

How long does it take until the 18. (last) wheel turns one (1!!) time? How much energy is consumed by the motor during that time?

It takes 3 Million years!!


The motor would consume

26,5 W x 365 x 24 x 3,000,000 h =
7 x 10**2 GWh or
0.7 TWh

That would cost some 128 Million Euro at 0.2 Euro/kwh

Without IEC standards it would be much more expensive! Or?

Friday, October 11, 2013

IEC 61850 and DC

IEEE invites all interested parties to contribute to the development of a plan "DC in the Home" to ensure that DC electricity can be safely and conveniently accessed in homes, eliminating the wasteful conversion of AC to DC, and in many cases, DC to AC, prior to entering the home.

This seems to be an interesting question. I guess people digging into this issue will – some time down the street – start discussing a DC communication standard. Is this required? I guess it is not needed.

IEC 61850 could already be applied as well for DC systems. IEC 61850 defines many models for, e.g., PV inverter, batteries, storage systems, DC protection, … DC measurements.

As an example see the logical node MMDC defined in IEC 61850-7-4 Ed2:


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Utility cuts IT workforce, hires Indian outsourcers

Northeast Utilities (NU) in Connecticut (USA) confirmed plans to outsource IT work to India-based outsourcers; move will affect some 200 jobs

Northeast Utilities confirmed the other day that it plans to turn over part of its IT operations to two India-based outsourcing firms, despite a recent push by state lawmakers to keep it from doing so.

NU says it employs some 400 IT workers, and "will retain about half of those employees" after turning some operations over to outsourcers Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, two of India's largest IT firms.

Click HERE for more details.

Could this be a solution for automation, control, monitoring … ?

Here is another question somebody brought up discussing the NU approach:

“Would you outsource the autopilot to some inexpensive pilot on the ground in some foreign country with cheap labor? No? Then why is anyone even discussing such options for SCADA? And yet, they do!

The problem is education. Many utilities are putting poorly educated, poorly trained staff at the controls of our infrastructure, and then because it fails all the time, are seriously contemplating outsourcing the whole operation to another country.

Outsourcing to the cloud doesn't work. It's not about the technology. It's the people.”

I would add to state that another crucial problem is the education of people that make these decisions to outsource managing our infrastructure.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

IntelliSub Europe 2013 conference

The IntelliSub Europe 2013 conference about next-generation smart substations, takes place 26-28 November 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany

Mövenpick Hotel Frankfurt City, Germany

Click HERE for details.

IEC 61850 is a core component that will be discussed throughout the conference.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

IEC 61400-25 and IEC 61850 for Semantic models in Integrated Operations for Oil & Gas and New Energy

In 2010 Billam Rajashekar Reddy (Norway) analyzed several semantic models for information exchange supporting operations and maintenance :

“Use of Semantic models in Integrated Operations for Oil & Gas and New Energy”

He looked into many solutions like:

  • IEC 61400-25 Wind Turbine Communication
  • RDS-PP Reference Designation System for Power Plant
  • CRM Conceptual Reference Model
  • WITSML Well site Information Transfer Standard Mark-up Language
  • PRODML Production Markup Language
  • RESQML Reservoir Characterization Markup Language
  • RDS-PP Reference Designation System for Power Plants
  • OPC OLE for process control

The conclusion drawn at the end of the Master’s Thesis says:

“Use of semantic models in integrated operations for oil and gas and new energy includes several methods. We come across all those methods. The IEC 61400-25 series of standards provides the means to get open and easy access to key O&M data. This data is a necessity for making the evaluations and analysis needed to improve operation and maintenance of the wind power plants. The paper has shown how the standard can be implemented and what benefits are associated with its use.
The standard does not restrict nor mandate specific customer-supplier roles, but provides a solution that supports the whole range of business cases where the different actors can cooperate. Both the customer and the supplier can benefit from IEC 61400-25 through decreased costs for data access and system integration. Time and money can instead be put on the development of applications, functions and methods that increase the performance of the wind turbines. ...”

I totally agree with the last sentence in the above quoted conclusion! The information modelling method, huge bunch of information models defined in IEC 61400-25 and IEC 61850, information exchange, communication protocols, system configuration language, … could be used immediately – if you choose a ready-to-go software solution with an easy API.

Spend your time and money in applying the standards! Build interoperable systems that keep the sky blue, the grass green, and the power flowing ;-)

Click HERE to access the master thesis.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

VDE and DKE have published Compendium on Energiewende 180° in English

“The DKE has taken an active role in shaping the turnaround in energy policy. Standards open new markets and enable innovation. With the Energiewende 180° initiative, we offer companies and institutions a forum for their various innovations which focus on the energy transition.”

The DKE (German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE) is a modern, non-profit service organization for the secure and efficient production, distribution and use of electricity. By extension, it serves to benefit the general public. It is the competence centre for electro technical standardization in Germany.

The power of standardization reveals itself through activities that encourage dialogue, protect competency and strengthen commitment. This is why the DKE launched the Energiewende 180° initiative.

Click HERE to visit the website of the Initiative Energiewende 180°

Free download of the Compendium E-Book is available.

NettedAutomation is one of the supporters of the Energiewende 180 °: The turnaround in energy policy is achieved with IEC standards and good training

How do you know which IEC 61850 Information Models are published or underway for publication?

Information models in IEC 61850 are growing very fast. Many groups have understood that one of the benefits of IEC 61850 is this: Information Models for real world information (measurements, status, configuration, limits, control, …).

One crucial question is this: Where can you get an overview and introduction in the many models already published or those models underway? There are several groups extending the models for several applications inside and outside electrical substations.

The easiest way is to ask somebody that has a good overview and long-term experience with IEC 61850 …

One of the crucial extensions is defined in the draft IEC 61850-90-3. During a training course I was asked last week if IEC 61850 defines something for overhead line monitoring – he did not have a chance to easily figure out that there is one document under preparation … sure you usually don’t know it or don’t find some documentation.

The following figure gives a brief overview about the various aspects of line monitoring:


Want to learn more on the 300+ Logical Node classes defined so far? Please contact NettedAutomation … or attend the next training course in Frankfurt/Germany on 16-18 October 2013.

You have the chance to learn the basics AND the most crucial definitions of the standards and how they could be used. See you there.

The aging infrastructure and aging work force requires more sensors to make sure that the power is flowing reliably in the future! Almost every day you can read stories about breaking infrastructure.