Monday, February 12, 2024

Global Push for IEC 61850 - The vPAC Alliance for Virtual Protection Automation and Control

IEC 61850 is one of the crucial core components of the architecture of the Virtual Protection Automation and Control (vPAC) Alliance: "Driving standards-based, open, interoperable, and secure software-defined architecture to host protection, automation, and control solutions for power system substations." 

As of the membership list I accessed today 23 well known companies are involved in the alliance: ABB, Advantec, AEP, Black&Veatch, Crystal, Dell Technologies, ... SCE, ... Intel, ... Omicron, Phoenix Contact, Schneider Electric, Siemens Energy, ... 

This kind of alliances will make a chance in how to protect, automate, control, and supervise power systems ... and other system where power is a crucial factor ... like in factories, buildings, ... airports, ...

"A key plays the "virtual protection relay (VPR) concept [pdf document] – an architecture where software defined and virtualized platforms are deployed to host the critical circuit protection functions for an advanced and agile grid. ... 

Standard models of various protection functions were devised for possible interoperability between protection IEDs from any vendor. Standards were prepared for data exchange between devices (station bus) and current/voltage information from field (process bus). Acceptance of the IEC 61850 standards worldwide have resulted in station level and process level communication networks for exchange of digitized raw values (using Sampled Values, or SV, protocol) and processed values/information across the substation devices and beyond the substation to centralized monitoring systems. ..."

It is interesting that it took some 40 years from the definition of Virtual Manufacturing Devices (VMD) in ISO 9506 (MMS, Manufacturing Message Specification) until such a big alliance has the term "virtual" in its name! I have demonstrated on and on since the 80s that this is the future ... 

MMS defines Virtual Manufacturing Devices in clause 6 of part ISO 9506-1 as follows:

I have found in the automation domain that only a few engineers understand abstraction and virtualization. The following wise saying may help ... try it:

If it's there and you can see it It's REAL
If it's there and you can't see it It's TRANSPARENT
If it's not there and you can see it It's VIRTUAL
If it's not there and you can't see it It's GONE
Roy Wills

IEC 61850, IEC 61400-25 (Windpower), and IEC 60870-6 (TASE.2/ICCP) use MMS and the concepts of abstraction and virtualization ... I had a chance to describe these crucial basic concepts as editor of the first edition of IEC 61850-7-1 (Basic communication structure – Principles and models) ... here is what I have written ... some 20 years ago ... still in the current edition:

" ... The IEC 61850 series defines the information and information exchange in a way that it is independent of a concrete implementation (i.e., it uses abstract models). The standard also uses the concept of virtualisation. Virtualisation provides a view of those aspects of a real device that are of interest for the information exchange with other devices. Only those details that are required to provide interoperability of devices are defined in the IEC 61850 series. ..." 

I still like it.

It is great to see that this concept (defined in the 80s) is in the core of future protection, automation, and SCADA ... 

Let me know what you thing ... you find me on LinkedIn as well.

Good luck!


Ing. Luis Puche said...

Hello Mr Schwarz:
You wrote: "It is great to see that this concept (defined in the 80s) is in the core of future protection, automation, and SCADA ... "

Two comments:
1) Why are we talking about "future" (not "present")? Is there much resistance in utilities all over the world to embrace completely the IEC 61850? I mean, mainly, in substations domain?
2) May be this comment could sound pretty basic, but I envision implementaation of IEC 61850 as a overall plattform, at least in certan domains, but still a separation between major functionalities appears (, automation, and SCADA ... "). So, that confuses me because I can "feel" the resistance of SCADA services providers and also I see SCADA scope only as a part of the complete automation process. Am I wrong? I hope you can make it more clearer!
Many thanks
Luis Puche

Karlheinz Schwarz said...

Dear Luis,
1) It is used all over for 20+ years. Used presently ... and in the future, too. No doubt.
2) IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 (61850 for Wind Power Plants) could be used for SCADA as well ... we can lead the horse to the water - but we cannot force it to drink. To use IEC 61850 for SCADA or not is not a technical issue - it depends on history and lobbying organizations ... and likely on the age of the people responsible ... ;-)