IEC 61850 - What is next?

Author: Christoph Brunner, it4power, Switzerland

IEC 61850 - What is next?

Another year is over and so it is time to give you once again an update on the latest developments in IEC 61850. WG10 and WG17 just had their winter meetings - WG10 in Pomona, East of Los Angeles and WG17 in Palo Alto, South of San Francisco, USA. And DistribuTECH 2019 conference which took place this year in New Orleans, USA just closed the doors. DistribuTECH showed once again, that IEC 61850 has definitely arrived in the US. Many utilities start to see the benefits that IEC 61850 provides, and many products related to IEC 61850 could be seen on the exhibition floor.

The work on the core parts of IEC 61850, Amendment 1 of Edition 2 (also called Ed 2.1) has unfortunately not progressed as fast as expected one year ago. The work on the preparation of the new interoperability annex that I presented in my column of PAC World 44 took more time than anticipated. But I am convinced that it was worth the delay as it opens the way for future improvements in the standard without affecting previous investments.
We also had some delay with the final editing of the FDIS by IEC. But finally, FDIS for part 7-2, 7-3 and 7-4 should now be circulated in the next few weeks, and the work on the other parts is as well progressing.
In 2018, we completed the work on the glossary (part 2, Edition 2), the guideline for basic application profiles (part 7-6) and the technical report on usage of IEC 61850 for distribution automation (part 90-6).

We published the namespace files - the electronic model definition based on the schema defined in IEC 61850-7-7 – for the edition 2 of IEC 61850-7-2, -7-3 and -7-4 and -8-1.
Details are provided in the IEC document 57/2023/INF that was circulated on July 13, 2018.

Significant progress was made with the work on logic modelling which will be documented in IEC 61850-90-11. That work will provide a key puzzle stone in our overall goal to support an open and efficient design process. We expect to finish that work in 2019.
Also, progress was made with the report about functional testing (part 10-3). Here as well, we hope that the work can be finished within 2019.

And finally, the guideline on how to extend IEC 61850, which is intended for other committees but also for product manufacturers, should be finished as well in 2019.
Progress is also made on the Edition 2 of the core part for DERs (part 7-420). Models for the grid codes have been incorporated and we are working on the generic models for DERs.

Another important work for Smart Grids is the mapping between IEC 61850 and Modbus devices. The goal here is, to be able in the end to describe the data model of a Modbus device in IEC 61850 semantic, using the IEC 61850 system configuration language. This will help with the data management while integrating Modbus devices in a Smart Grid. Unfortunately, that work is still delayed, but we hope for significant progress in 2019.
Further, work will also start on investigating IEC 61850 modeling for microgrids. This will be a new technical report IEC 61850-90-23.

Some of the key activities of WG10 are still focused on further improving the engineering efficiency and the semantic understanding of the information available in the smart grid. For these activities, the WG is closely working together with the end users - the utilities - in particular with ENTSO-E, the European Organization of Transmission System Operators. Based on the ongoing ENTSO-E work, to identify gaps in the data models of the standard, we prepare a technical report IEC 61850-90-25 that will extend the data models as needed. Also, in this report, we will address the enhanced specification process based on ENTSO-E requirements. That process is currently defined and tested as part of a European research project with the name OSMOSE.
The goal is to support a fully digital specification process that supports the simulation of the specification and the evaluation of tenders.

The technical report IEC 61850-6-100 extending the function modeling part of the substation configuration language, will help to improve the semantic understanding of the information.
Still ongoing is the work to model FACTS, traveling wave-based fault location and alarm handling. A first draft for IEC 61850-90-20, Guideline to redundancy systems is ready. The data model for communication equipment, that was first published in IEC 61850-90-4 has been revised, and a draft of the second Edition is ready.
Finally, we are preparing for another interoperability testing event in September, which this year will be for the second time in North America hosted by EPRI in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Christoph Brunner is the President of his own independent consulting company it4power LLC based in Switzerland. He has over 25 years of experience with knowledge across several areas within the Utility Industry and of technologies from the Automation Industry. He has worked as a project manager at ABB Switzerland Ltd in the area of Power Technology Products in Zurich / Switzerland where he was responsible for the process close communication architecture of the automation system. He is Convener of WG 10 of the IEC TC57 and is a member of WG 17, 18 and 19 of IEC TC57. He is senior member of IEEE-PES and IEEE-SA. He is an IEEE Fellow and he is active in several working groups of the IEEE-PSRC and a member of the PSRC main committee and the subcommittee H. He is international advisor to the board of the UCA international users group.