Where are we today with IEC 61850?

Author:Christoph Brunner, it4power, Switzerland

While I am writing this column, I am flying from Orlando, where we had DistribuTECH 2016 to the Californian Desert, where we will have, next week, the WG10 meeting. The WG17 winter working group meeting which is by tradition in the US took place a week ago in Houston. As always for the first PAC world magazine of the year, I try to summarize the status of the standardization activities related to IEC 61850.

Where are we today with IEC 61850? Let me start with the major achievements of last year:

  • Finally, IEC 61850-90-2 about usage of IEC 61850 towards the substation as well as IEC 61850-90-3, the technical report defining models for condition monitoring of primary equipment could be finished. They are currently both in preparation by IEC for publication and should be published when this column will be printed.
  • We also made progress with the Edition 2.1.  Remember – Ed 2.1 mainly incorporates TISSUES that have been collected so far on the Ed 2. The Amendment for part 7-4 is in circulation as CDV. Since the amendment only explains the changes, we decided to circulate additionally a consolidated version which reflects the status of Ed 2.1. The amendments for part 7-3 and 7-2 as well as part 9-2 will be ready after the WG meeting next week.
  • We also have the amendment for part 6 ready.  Here many issues that were identified during the interoperability testing event last October were incorporated.  Having the WG meeting directly following the IOP was very beneficial - we plan to do that again in fall 2017. The Ed 2.1 of part 6 will have many new specifications that will help to achieve the goal of an efficient engineering of multi-vendor systems.

We also could distribute the latest SCL schemas for both Ed 1 as well as Ed 2 through IEC. Unfortunately, making them available for download at the IEC site is not yet possible – discussions about copyright issues are still ongoing. I hope that this will be settled during 2016. Future standards will more often include so called code components that need directly go into tools and other products produced based on the standard. These code components need to be available in an electronic format. IEC has the chance here to take a leader role in the standardization world. However, if the copyright issue related to that is not resolved soon, users will turn away from standards organization and use open source user organizations to develop future IT specifications.

In the world of distribution automation and distributed energy resources (WG17), the technical report 90-8 with the object models for e-mobility has been finished. Progress was as well made with the report for distribution automation (90-6) – a first draft could be circulated – and with the mapping on web technologies using XMPP.  The model for schedules has been incorporated in the base IEC 61850-7-4 and the related technical report 90-10 is ready as well.

Finally, WG18 dealing with bulk power plants is about to complete the amendment to part 7-410 with the model extensions for steam and gas turbines.

So IEC 61850 is definitely progressing. And this not only in the standardization work. At DistribuTECH, again several papers were presented from North American utilities about their first experience with IEC 61850. So the number of utilities using IEC 61850 is growing as well.

What is next? With an increased use of process bus, security becomes more important. In particular in North America, as well as in other countries that want to apply NERC CIP rules, there is a need for clarification, how to apply these rules for an IEC 61850 system. Also, some of the base security standards from TC57 prepared in WG15 (IEC 62351 series) are now ready. One of them deals with role based access to devices.
So an important work of WG10 will be to define how these standards shall apply to IEC 61850.  

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. 

Power. Flexible. Easergy.
BeijingSifang June 2016