Monday, May 1, 2017

Why Wikipedia Misleads People Looking for Help regarding IEC 61850

How do people understand and learn what the standard series IEC 61850 really offers to the protection, automation and supervision of energy systems and what this all means for their application (as vendor, user, consultant, ...)? Some up-to-date discussion you can find on this blog, e.g., by this posting:

Who can tell you what IEC 61850 really is?

Some people (managers and ...) just go to Wikipedia and believe that they get a reasonable overview about IEC 61850. After reading the German and English version, they have learned: That IEC 61850 is mainly a PROTOCOL standard!

German Version tells in the very first sentence:

"Die Norm IEC 61850 der International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) beschreibt ein allgemeines ├ťbertragungsprotokoll f├╝r die Schutz- und Leittechnik in elektrischen Schaltanlagen der Mittel- und Hochspannungstechnik (Stationsautomatisierung)."

English Version talks a lot about PROTOCOLS:

"IEC 61850 is a standard for vendor-agnostic engineering of the configuration of Intelligent Electronic Devices for electrical substation automation systems to be able to communicate with each other. ... The abstract data models defined in IEC 61850 can be mapped to a number of protocols. Current mappings in the standard are to MMS (Manufacturing Message Specification), GOOSE (Generic Object Oriented Substation Event), SMV (Sampled Measured Values),[clarification needed] and soon to Web Services. These protocols can run over TCP/IP networks or substation LANs using high speed switched Ethernet to obtain the necessary response times below four milliseconds for protective relaying."

After reading these two pages ... some managers believe that IEC 61850 is mainly dealing with protocols. Protocols are required to exchange information between devices.
IEC 61850 deals mainly with the description of signal flows between any point of a (power or energy) system that generates information (status, measurements, alarms, settings, ...) and those points that need to receive or consume this information.(protection, automation, SADA, control center, ... asset management, ...).
The signal flow could be completely described (and documented) as an SCL file of tens of Mega Bytes ... such files have almost nothing to do with protocols - but the tools that design and engineer systems like substations are key to the future systems. SCL is defined in one document (IEC 61850-6). This document has the biggest impact on how we manage power systems in the future.
In my understanding SCL is likely 2/3 of the importance of IEC 61850. Then there are the many crucial models - and finally we have protocols. Protocols are crucial when it comes to devices that have to send and receive signals - no discussion.

Unfortunately the managers (and everybody) that uses Wikipedia for understanding the impact of IEC 61850 are completely mislead! And likely may not understand how IEC 61850 impacts the system design and engineering based on SCL - aspects that are today usually not linked to any protocol.

If the resources for a project to implementing and using IEC 61850 is determined by the assumption that IEC 61850 is another PROTOCOL - then it is likely that the project will fail to get what IEC 61850 could provide.

This post was triggered by a discussion during an IEC 61850 Seminar and hands-on training recently. It is really frustrating for engineers to discuss the needed resources with managers that believe IEC 61850 is mainly a PROTOCOL.

Who can tell you what IEC 61850 really is?


Tommy said...

Please feel free to contribute to Wikipedia, either by improving to the existing page or by creating new topics relating to 61850.

Julio Dominguez said...

Dear Karlheinz,
Just let me say three things.
1) I couldn't agree more.
2) If that Wikipedia article needs to be rewritten (and I'm pretty sure it does) I can't think of a better person to do so than yourself.
3) The present contents of the article just epitomize the current state of things: some actors prefer a 'castrated' form of IEC 61850, e.g. one in which SCL is hardly relevant. A full standard for SAS management seems a too dangerous idea...
To the good understander, a few words shall suffice.
Julio Dominguez