Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do we need Blackouts to Expose Flaws in the Grid?

From the viewpoint of a engineers: No! There are many engineers or other technicians that are aware of the condition of the whole system – including the aging work force. From the viewpoint of many people in charge to make decisions to invest or not to invest: Yes!

The New York Times published yesterday an article about the biggest power outage in the history of Northern America: the 2003 blackout. Since then a lot has improved – enough to keep the power flowing at mid November 2013. Is it enough for the years to come? We will see if the improvements payoff or not.

The article states: “The improvements were ideas that engineers had always liked, but had trouble persuading utility executives and public service commissions to pay for.”

Click HERE to read the article.

I hope that the voice of the engineers will convince more decision-makers to allocate sufficient resources for keeping the aging power infrastructure running, the power flowing, the grass green, and the sky blue.

Some 10 years after the first substation automation systems have been equipped with IEC 61850 based devices, a lot of smart engineers see the need to invest into defining a second layer on top of the standards and the many options they provide. This second layer could be named: Interoperability Profile Specifications. The standards comprise several hundred of options (in models, services, and extensions) that lead to a proliferation of implementations. A growing number of engineers is struggling to let two or more devices from multiple vendors understand each other.

I look forward to seeing more decision-makers from all stake-holders to provide the needed resources for the development of Interoperability Profile Specifications.

I always say in my courses that IEC 61850 is very scalable – BUT YOU have to SCALE each and every device! Scaling needs to be done in a way that for a given application ALL devices apply THE VERY SAME SCALE!! The scales have to be negotiated and applied by all participants of a system.

When does the users community want to get there? If the answer is: as soon as possible – you should invite experienced people to help you.

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