Friday, February 28, 2014

What are the Benefits of IEC 61850?

The question “What are the benefits of IEC 61850” has different flavors and multiple answers – it depends on what are you looking for. If you are looking just at the communication protocol, there are answers like:

  1. The client/server protocol (MMS) is a unified solution standardized some 25 years ago. It is a stable standard – unlikely to change in the future and accepted all over for many years.
  2. The GOOSE messaging is very unique and provides real-time information exchange in the msec range – accepted all over
  3. The Sampled Values messaging provides a unique solution for exchanging samples of currents, voltages, vibration measurements accepted all over.

If you are looking at the information models, there are really many crucial models defined and in use. No other standard (I am aware of) has such a rich set of information models that expose process information in a standardized way – all over accepted.

There is – of course – the crucial issue on the configuration language. In this post we will discuss the benefit of a unified model that allows to hide the different vendor-specific signal lists for Modbus communication in two different power quality meters. In the end, the unification of specific information profiles (or subsets) for, e.g., the electrical measurements makes IEC 61850 different compared to any other solution I know.

The power quality monitors used are: Janitza UMG 604 and Acuvim II. Both meters provide many measurements of the electrical system. The signals can be communicated by Modbus. Usually each vendor has a different approach to define the lists of signals – and especially the indexes used for the vary same signal is quite different and have to be mapped manually to any application – again and again. There is no way to agree on a single unified Modbus signal list that can be applied all over. The next figure shows the two devices, their signal “phase voltage” with different identifiers and indexes.


The unification of the information model is implemented in a simple gateway (com.tom BASIC 5.1). The gateway is based on a WEB-PLC that maps the incoming Modbus signals to IEC 61850 models. The IEC 61850 model uses the same logical node class and type. The type MMXU_0 is the subset of the MMXU class used in this application (of four data objects – as can be seen in the icd file). The instance MMXU1 can easily be “copied” to build a second instance: for the Acuvim II meter. Both instances use a unique MMXU logical node type (contained in the icd file). The model can be used to configure the IEC 61850 server device and an IEC 61850 client (in this case the IEDScout) as shown in the next figure.


The gateway solution is reasonable in case just a limited number of applications need the information communicated by IEC 61850.  The next step could be to integrate the “gateway” into the meter housing, as shown in the next figure:


The “heart” of the gateway (we use) is the Beck IPC@CHIP controller that could be applied as a subsystem in the meter. It manages the complete IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, IEC 60870-5-104 or DNP3 communication.

The IEC 61850 models are the same as before in the case of using a separate gateway box. From a client point of view there is only one difference: there are two IP addresses and two IED names to take into account.

The configuration of the client could benefit from the unified information model contained in a standardized machine readable format (.icd). When you google for power meters with a Modbus interface (or any other fieldbus-like) interface you will get as many different signal list as solutions. In our case we can easily unify the information that comes from many different meters.

By the way, the unified model can be fed not only by a Modbus communication interface. Any other signal list communicated by the myriad of solutions could easily be unified! It does not matter how many different protocols you have to take into account – the very same IEC 61850 profile could serve them all. Define it once and use it for ever and all over.

The WEB-PLC based solution explained here is available – I have tested the concept with several devices: meters, monitoring devices, control devices. This approach could be applied right away – and you pay while you go. To get started with a extra box is in the range of some hundred Euro plus some time to understand the approach and learn how to get started with the product. The IPC@CHIP including IEC 61850 client and server (GOOSE and SMV), IEC 60870-5-104 server, and Modbus client costs less than 100 Euro – too cheap to ignore.

Let people define new protocols and … IEC 61850 can unify them all! The next days I will post a report on a hierarchical system with a Janitza UMG 604 and fan heater as the process, a com.tom device to monitor and control the process (with an IEC 61850 server), an a com.tom on top that could be used as a (proxy) gateway to the underlying com.tom (providing an IEC 61850 client, IEC 60870-5-104 server and an IEC 61850 server). The gateway interoperates in a plug&play manner with the underlying IEC 61850 IEDs.

I don’t fear the following situation:


nor this …


It is a change for IEC 61850 to unify the proliferation!

More to come shortly – stay tuned to this blog.

I had to wait almost 30 years to have a real simple and easy to use “MAP” solution running on my desk:


The MAP/TOP Demonstration in 1986 was too early! Definitely!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DIN und DKE: Brücken bauen zwischen Forschung und Normung

DIN und DKE führen am 26. Mai 2014 in Berlin einen “Workshop für Forscher und Multiplikatoren zur Relevanz von Normung und Standardisierung für den Forschungstransfer” durch.

“Der Workshop wird das Thema aus verschiedenen Perspektiven beleuchten und die Möglichkeiten der Zusammenarbeit zwischen Forschung, Normung und Standardisierung präsentieren. Projekte aus den Bereichen Risikomanagement, Logistik, Energiewende und Smart Grid werden über ihre Anwendung von Normung und Standardisierung als Verwertungsinstrument berichten.”

Hier für mehr Informationen klicken.

Aus Sicht der Normenreihen IEC 60870-5-104, IEC 61968, IEC 61970, IEC 61850 und IEC 61400-25 kann auch die Forschung als Verwertungsinstrument für Normen eingesetzt werden. Für verfügbare und – vor allem – international anerkannte Normen sollte die Forschung die Ergebnisse verwerten und für Anwendungen einsetzen, die helfen, die Energiewende und Smart(er) Grids voranzubringen.

Doppel- und Dreifachnormung durch die Forschung ist kaum zielführend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IEC 61400-25-4 Mappings: IEC 610870-5-104 AND/OR IEC 61850-8-1 MMS?

As an engineer I have been involved in many discussions on protocols – for the last 30 years. Sometimes it seems to be better to just ignore the arguments pro and contra a specific solution. The mapping in IEC 61850 uses ISO 9506 (MMS) as the “transport layer” of the messages required for IEC 61850 client-server applications.

In IEC 61400-25-4 (WIND TURBINES – Part 25-4: Communications for monitoring and control of wind power plants – Mapping to communication profile) there are the following five options defined:

  • Web-services
  • IEC 61850-8-1 (MMS)
  • IEC 60870-5-101/104
  • DNP3

Depending on the company you will find one or the other solution. Most applications use MMS – not all.

Yesterday I attended a presentation of a big (well known wind turbine manufacturer). The presentation showed the use of IEC 60870-5-104 to communicate information defined in IEC 61400-25-2 (Information Models). The fourth option expressively allows to use 104. So, does this mean the market will split in five parts? Why should this happen?

The following application running on the WEB-PLC of the Beck IPC com.tom shows that it is quite easy to support one or the other solution or BOTH – at the same time.

The com.tom 5.1 provides two servers: IEC 60870-5-104 AND IEC 61850. The decision which signal to communicate by which protocol is engineered by drawing a line (on a standard web browser!) from the source information (coming from the Janitza UMG 604 power quality analyzer) to the corresponding output signal: IEC 60870-5-104 and/or IEC 61850:


The two clients on top (left QTester104, right IEDScout) can tap the same information. It is no question anymore: either ONE or the OTHER. The communication of the signals can be decided by drawing a simple linewithout programming a single line in C/C++ or IEC 61131-3. Sure, the applications to be run on the com.tom family of products can also be programmed in IEC 61131-3 (CoDeSys) and C/C++ … which means: it is more work.


The WEB-PLC Object at the bottom right in the above figure can be an IEC 61400-25-2 object like: WGEN1.PhV.cVal.mag. For the platform these are all just names. I will provide more examples soon.

This solution shows that there is no need to fight for one or the other solution: just use whatever fits with your needs. DNP3 will be available soon … Modbus RTU is already used (see above).

Workshop of USE61400-25 Users Group in Hamburg was a very big Success

The workshop on IEC 61400-25 (IEC 61850 extensions for wind turbines) at Senvion (former RePower, Hamburg) was a very big success! The 40 attendees appreciated the high level of presentations on several aspects of the standard: Information Models, Modeling, Information exchange services, Mappings, Applications, solutions, testing, and certification.

The USE61400-25 Users Group was very active in promoting the standard and how to reach a high level of interoperability and – of course – conformity!

It is very likely that this workshop has inspired several people present that are not yet members of the Users Group.

Membership in this Users Group provides an excellent platform to exchange experiences, educate experts, to support the standardization process, and the testing of devices.

Check the Users Groups website for news – you will find also news about the wind power applications on this blog. Several people thanked me for the great content they find on this blog! You are welcome!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New VHPReady Industrieforum to push IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850

The specification “Virtual Heat and Power” (VHPReady) has been developed by Vattenfall and published as Version 3. The specification is a profile for a specific application. It has gained crucial industry support. The specification is the major input for the newly established “Industrieforum VHPReady”  this week Wednesday during the E-World conference in Essen.

The Virtual Power Plant combines block-type combined heat and power (BCHP) plants and heat pumps to create an interconnected, flexible system with centralized control. It is the first power plant which is capable of generating power during heat generation using the connected BCHP plants while making good use of excess wind and solar electricity by way of heat pumps.

The two communication options are: IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850.

Founding members of the Industrieforum are well known organizations and companies:
- Fraunhofer FOKUS
- 2G Energy AG
- 50Hertz Transmission GmbH
- Beck IPC GmbH
- Bosch Software Innovations GmbH
- Energy2market GmbH
- E.ON Connecting Energies GmbH
- IT&I GmbH
- LichtBlick SE
- Optimax Energy GmbH
- PHOENIX CONTACT Electronics GmbH
- SSV Software Systems GmbH
- Vattenfall Europe Wärme AG
- WAGO Kontakttechnik GmbH & Co. KG
- Younicos AG

Download the VHPReady 3.0 specification in English [PDF, 650 KB] and in German [PDF, 650 KB].

Some discussions can be found here:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Siemens reported using IEC 60870-5-104 for DEMS

Siemens DEMS 3.0 stands for third version of their “Decentralized Energy Management System”. It uses IEC 60870-5-104 for communication with power generators, storage devices or loads. The use of open communication and other solutions built-in reduce the engineering cost for virtual power plants by 60 percent – according to Siemens.

What could you do to apply the same cost reduction – or more – if you have to integrate IEDs that provide IEC 61850 information, information exchange and configuration language? Or how to connect a DEMS 3.0 system to IEC 61850?

Here is – I guess – the easiest and shortest time-to-market solution … without writing a single line of program code: The gateway using a so-called com.tom (communication to machine). The topology of an example is shown in the following figure. The gateway is implemented in the upper box.


All WEB PLC objects (inputs and outputs) related to IEC 61850 models are automatically generated from the corresponding SCL files. There is no need to do any manual configuration as long as you have the ICD files of the devices. The object names of the WEB PLC are derived from the object references of the IED/LD/LN.DO.DOA and so on. You see the path names in the I/O list.


All WEB PLC objects can be used to build applications like linking any input with any output (applying the same type – of course): single point input to single point output. The following diagram shows a simple gateway functionality to receive a command via IEC 60870-5-104, route it through an IEC 61850 client to an underlying IEC 61850 server that switches a fan on or off. The status of the FAN LN (using an extended Data Object OpSt) reports the status of the fan. This status is received from the underlying IED via an IEC 61850 report and routed to an IEC 61850 server and an IEC 60870-5-104 server in the gateway.


After “drawing” this diagram, all you need to do is to store the diagram to the gateway (com.tom Basic 3.1 S) and start the program. That’s it.

You may also have figured out the the com.tom Basic 3.1 S integrates an 5-port Ethernet Switch and another independent Ethernet port. This allows to build secure proxy servers/gateways.

The WEB PLC with IEC 60870-5-104, DNP3, Modbus, IEC 61850, … is a very easy, low cost and fast-to-market product that can be applied for many applications running on these communication solutions and for gateways. The application is freely configurable by drawing lines.

If you need complex functions, you can write them in C/C++ or IEC 61131-3 (CoDeSys) and wrap them for immediate use at the WEB PLC. For more complex applications you can program the application in C/C++ or CoDeSys and use the same communication.

Whatever protocol standard is used for a system (IEC 60870-5-104 for Siemens DEMS 3.0) you can easily integrate other devices that run DNP3, Modbus, IEC 61850, … with the com.tom WEB PLC gateway.

You want to learn more about the gateway, please contact us.

Click HERE for information about the com.tom family. The com.tom Basic 3.1, for example, costs 368 Euro plus some license costs for IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850 – this includes already the 5-port Ethernet Switch!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Seamless e-vehicle to Smart Grid Connectivity through IEC Standard Communication

To prevent e-vehicles from overloading power grids while charging, seamless connectivity is required. To help address this issue, Fraunhofer ESK (Munich, Germany) is developing underlying communication methods for a uniform energy management system. At the Hannover Trade Fair (April 7-11, 2014, booth C10, exhibit hall 13), ESK researchers will be demonstrating how the charging station serves as an interoperable node between the e-vehicle and the network control center using the ISO/IEC 15118 and IEC 61850 standards. Having already implemented both communication interfaces, ESK engineers can now illustrate how the concept works in practice.

With its solution, the institute helps charging station and e-vehicle manufacturers and grid operators to implement the communication standards and test their products for standards compliance.

Seamless e-vehicle/smart grid connectivity through intelligent communication

"Our experience has shown that charging station manufacturers are still shying away from the standard because the implementation is too complex," explains Dr. Erik Oswald from Fraunhofer ESK in Munich. "For this reason, we developed a reference installation that significantly streamlines the implementation."

Yes, I agree … I have seen it. It is that easy.

Click HERE for the full report from nano werk.
Click HERE for a presentation on more details, provided by ESK.
Click HERE for a list of further presentation material.

Congratulation to the experts involved!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ENEL pushes for IEC 61850 MMS and GOOSE in Smart Grids

Several times I have reported about the use of IEC 61850 in DER Management projects in the distribution networks of ENEL in Italy.

Several Pilot projects have shown the benefit of using a standardized solution: IEC 61850 MMS (client/server) and GOOSE messaging.

A brief report can be found in the pacworld magazine issue September 2013. The key applications are: voltage control and

Voltage control

The massive introduction of distributed generators changes the constraints in hosting capacity calculation. In fact the hosting capacity of a MV network, with a high presence of DG, is not usually limited by conductors capability but by voltage increase caused by the distributed generators.
Historically and up to now, the voltage control was done by modulating the On Load Tap Changers (OLTC) of each HV/MV transformer by means of a method called “current compound.” The goal was assuring a good voltage level at both ends of the feeders. This method works until the voltage profile is monotone decreasing, but with the introduction of DG a different approach is required.

Fast Fault Selection

According to the Italian standards regulating the connection of customers to MV networks, (CEI 0-16), in case of a short circuit along a feeder, the circuit breaker at the line departure is opened after a time delay of 170- 250ms.
The scope of this delay is protection coordination between the distributor MV line breakers and also the customer fault-clearing devices.
Taking advantage of this time delay and of the short latency of message exchange of modern telecommunication networks, a new automatic fault clearing system can be implemented.


After the experimentation phase and pilot projects, it is very likely that Enel MV networks will be equipped with the new devices and the new functionalities will become operative.
Also the user power plants will be equipped with the devices and in particular with a control system implementing IRE functions. In fact all the customer devices should not be provided by the distributor but they should become unified interfaces built-in all commercial power plant control and protection systems.

Click HERE for the 3 page report.

Click HERE for a 118 page report from SMA on a communication needs and solutions – including IEC 60870-5-104, DNP3, and IEC 61850 [PDF, German, 17 MB].

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ABB: “Smart Planning” by “Consultancy Light”

Many advanced technologies for managing electric power delivery systems are implemented for high voltage transmission systems operated by big utilities. The smaller utilities (mainly distribution system operators) usually just follow the “rules” set by the big utilities. To this end: the power and the technology are “flowing top-down”.

The power is now flowing “top-down” and “bottom-up”. The technology needed in the future power system automation requires more than just “copying” the technologies from the big utilities. May requirements are very unique to the power delivery automation – the tools and approaches to keep the power reliably flowing at distribution level are under high pressure.

ABB has started a new group in Germany to offer a three step “Smart Planning” to meet the new challenges in distribution networks:

1. Classification of a distribution network
2. If the load limits are almost reached, the network monitoring phase starts
3. Voltage control and other technologies (e.g., smart Transformers) are considered

This prevents to start with expensive and detailed network calculations as applied in high voltage transmission systems.

Click HERE for the ABB press release on “Smart Planning” [PDF, German, 12 KB].

This “Smart Planning” requires a huge amount of new process measurements (3 phase voltage and current, temperature, power quality measurements, etc) and calculated values. IEC 61850 has the right “smart” international solution that backs this new planning approach.

Get all your data engineered,configured and communicated with IEC 61850. Start now with the basic information shared between the process and the applications to feed control, protection and optimization software with “smart” information. Prevent exchanging tons of data – look for useful and crucial information and not for data. Prevent flooding your control center with useless data flowing “bottom-up” – distributed control will extend the centralized systems of today. It is a combination of centralized and de-centralized monitoring and control that will keep the system stable.

Cooperate with “smart people” to get “smart”" power distribution systems”.

Click on the following links if you want to learn how to get there:

TÜV SÜD Seminars [DE], NettedAutomation hands-on Training [EN], Beck IPC Workshop [EN, DE]

The future of power distribution networks needs Teamwork – to make the Dream work … the dream of a sustainable power system. This team is more than just the experts of a huge manufacturer. Utility experts and consultants need to work together with the vendors’ experts.

Friday, February 7, 2014

MultiSpeak – CIM Harmonization initiated at International Level

IEC TC 57 has published a new document (57/1437/CD - IEC 61968-14 TS Ed.1) trying to figure out the need for harmonization between the international standard series IEC 61968 (CIM) and MultiSpeak:

IEC 61968-14 TS:
Application integration at electric utilities
- System interfaces for distribution management - Part 14:
MultiSpeak - CIM harmonisation

Commenting period closes 2014-05-02

Please contact your national TC 57 mirror committee for a copy of the document.

I guess that more and more people all over realize the benefit of International Standards – good for utility customers. Here is an excerpt of the Introduction of the new document:

“Multiple standards that cover the same information domain present a problem for the vendor community when developing products, and for the customers that would use these products. The classic challenge becomes one of determining which standards to support or how best to support one or both standards. The problem for the customer is integrating products that follow different standards to work with each other.”

Fortunately the situation for IEC 61850 is quite different: Most of the definitions in the standard series are very unique … with little or no competition. That’s one of the reasons why the standard is liked all over.

IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 are very successful in China

How is IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 adopted in China?

The other day a senior engineer of a well-known company in China told me the following: “Actually China is running faster than a horse in power systems communications, more like a leopard! Now IEC 61850 LAN Bus is everywhere in newly built substations. Even more IEC 61850 Process is running way too fast ... We are involved in many Wind Generation control projects over the last 2 years, many of these use IEC 61850.”

Monday, February 3, 2014

Download IEC 61850 Blog Content as single PDF Document (February 03, 2014)

For those readers of the blog that want to get the complete content as
a single pdf document, it is just a click away … it contains all 888 posts
from 2008 until 2014-02-03. Once you have downloaded the file you
can easily browse the content … search … mark … copy …

Download all posts of the IEC 61850 blog in a single pdf [10 MB, 
666 pages DIN A4]

Beck IPC offers a second Free of Charge Workshop on March 12, 2014 in German and first in English

The first Application and Gateway Workshop of Beck IPC on IEC 60870-5-104, DNP3, IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, … was conducted last Thursday (30 January 2014). The attendees appreciated the new approach of getting started with these solutions.

The second Workshop in German is scheduled for:

Datum: 12. März 2014
Ort: Wetzlar, etwa 70 km nördlich von Frankfurt
Zeit: 10:00 Uhr - 17:00 Uhr
Programm (Deutsch).

the first in English for:

Date: 13. March 2014
Location: Wetzlar (Germany), some 70 km north of Frankfurt
Time: 10:00 h - 17:00 h
Program (English).

Click HERE for more details and registration information for both events.

Check the posts below for some details on the solution.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Beautiful Simplicity of Gateways and Applications

One of the crucial challenges in applying open information and information exchange standards is the complexity (or better the comprehensiveness) of the standard series IEC 60870-5-104, DNP3, IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25, and IEC 62351 …

Check the beautiful simplicity of using gateways and application logic integrated into the com.tom platforms based on the WEB PLC (BASIC 3.1 S and 5.1). The following figure shows the general architecture of crucial gateways in the energy domain that allow to add Logic functions as well:


The main parts are the communication defined by (1) IEC 60870-5-105 (DNP3), (2) IEC 61850 Proxy, and (3) IEC 61850. These can be applied in seven different combinations:


The WEB PLC (a key feature of the com.tom) can be used to configure LOGIC and Gateways:


The WEB PLC unifies all input and output signals – independent of their origin or destination. Once you have them listed in the WEB PLC, you just need to draw a line between any input and output … and put logic gates in between:


Combine any signal with another signal (input with output) and your logic – using local input 0 and local output 1 and 2 as well as 61850 input (HeatKFAN1.OpCtl.Oper), 61850 output (HeatKFAN1.OpSt – extended Data Object), and 104 status of Fan:


This WEB PLC and the integration of many protocols, security (openVPN), firewall, … makes your life really easier.


With the com.tom and WEB PLC you are entering into the comfort zone of secure energy information and information exchange.

Click HERE to get started with the WEB PLC [pdf, 800 KB]