INTRODUCTION TO THE IEC 61850 STANDARD
The main target of the IEC 61850 standard is:
This is the client-server communication that takes place between the servers (the protection and control devices) and the SCADA and GATEWAY acting as clients.
The protocol used in this exchange use the MMS protocol (Manufacturing Message Specification) that is depicted in the standard ISO 9506. This protocol was developed for the industrial automation and it is one of the first protocols that identify data with hierarchies of names.
The communication is based on the OSI layered model over TCP/IP. A TCP channel is created between each client and each server. Over this channel the client can read data, force settings, request commands or receive spontaneous reporting.
A SCADA system will keep opened as many TCP/IP channels as servers it is monitoring.
IEC 61850 defines a fast and reliable point to multi point message exchange procedurethat can be used to replace copper wiring using in the data exchange between the cabinets in a substation. These messages are called GOOSE – Generic Object Oriented Substation Event. They use ETHERNET MULTICAST with quality of services and high priority that guarantees low delays in the substation switches and the distribution to all the interested subscriber within 3ms or 20ms depending on the requirements.
IEC 61850 standard defines a repetition mechanism for the GOOSE messages that is useful to check that the sender is alive and it is sending the required information. This is an advantage in comparison with the copper wiring where a broken cable may not be easily detected.
The secondary measurements in the Current or Voltage Transformer can also be digitalized and they can be sent from the switchyard to the control cabinets using optical fibers. This principle has originated the development of new products call the Merging Units that are responsible for the analogue to digital conversion and transmission.
The IEC 61850-9-2lite specification simplifies the possibilities of the information being sent by the merging units improving the interoperability. This specification requires either 80 or 256 samples per cycle. It also defines the information that must be sent in the sampled values message including only 4 voltages and 4 currents measurements at each frame exchanged.
IEC 61850 defines a hierarchical information model with the following levels:
The logical devices are logical containers used to organize the information of an IED splitting it into different categories. Usually several vendors categorize their information with logical device names as PROT(protection), CTRL (control), REC (Recorder). In any case the logical device naming is open to the vendor.
The logical nodes are the functions or the components that automate the system. There are functions related to control, protection, measurement, supervision and more. They are identified by 4 letters; the first one indicates their category. As an example, the logical node PIOC stands for Protection Instantaneous Over Current.
IEC 61850-7-4 include the table with all the categories. The logical nodes starting with D (DER), H (Hydro) and W (Wind) are defined by the standards IEC 61850-7-420, IEC 61850-7-410 and IEC 61400-25-2.
Each logical node includes a set of mandatory and optional data objects to fulfil their tasks. The data objects can represent status information, measurements, set points, controllable points, or descriptive information. Each logical node includes a table in the standard with its related data indicating their name and type. The vendors must select the ones that they can provide and they want to publish in their IEC 61850 model.
The equipment integration has been always one of the most complex tasks in the automation process. This integration required specific processes to convert proprietary formats of the vendors or the utilities. A standardized format that is able to define aspects as the information model, the equipment functionality and the connection establishment parameters improves notably this process.
The SCL file format improves the integration process. It allows the exchange of descriptive information and the information exposed by the device and its communication capabilities.
In order to work with SCL files, IEC 61850-6 defines the functionality that must be implemented in two different tools: the IED Configuration Tool (ICT) and the System Configuration Tool (SCT).
The ICT tool is provided by the equipment vendor and it allows to modify parameters and to load the created IEC 61850 configuration into the devices.
The SCT tool is used to integrate the IED configuration files and to define the communication parameters and the data exchanges needed to automate the system.
IEC 61850-6 defines different extensions for the SCL files in order to make it easy to understand the information contained:
The configuration of the control and protection equipment can be achieved by the used of the CID/IID files of the devices that publish GOOSE messages. The configuration of the clients as SCADA or GATEWAY usually uses the SCD file with the complete configuration of the system.
The integration of the MMS protocol and the required functionality of IEC 61850-7-2 in the protection equipment forced several manufactures to add new communication boards or even to use platforms or chipset with more computing power.
At the same time the vendor specific configuration tools have include new modules in order to:
The SCADA systems must include an IEC 61850 client module. Their configuration tools shall be able to import the standard SCL files and to select the monitored information matching the standard references with the internal descriptors used to show the information in the different SCADA views.
The remote terminal units used in IEC 61850 systems must include an IEC 61850 client module. Their configuration tools shall be able to import the standard SCL files and to select the monitored information matching the standard references with the remote control addressing information.
These are new equipment that converts the analogue current and voltage measurement to digital samples and they sent it over optical fibers to the control cabinets.
These devices only send and receive GOOSE messages. The can publish the status of some digital inputs by publishing a GOOSE message and they can activate digital output by the values received in a subscribed GOOSE.
They can be used to replace physical wiring used for interlocking or even opening and closing commands of breakers and disconnectors.
The breaker trip is probably the most critical action in a substation. Right now there are few companies using remote breakers tripped by GOOSE messages. Some time will be needed to get confidence in the technology behind the remote circuit breaker for their extensive use in this task.
The different equipment manufacturers have to include the communication protocols required by the IEC 61850 standard and they have to adapt their tools to work with the normative files.
They need to know how to identify the capabilities of the IEC 61850 equipment (the communication services available and the information exposed in the logical nodes) to be able to automate the system to fulfil the required specification. They also need to know how to identify if a device provides the required functionality.
The utilities need to know the main features of the standard to apply it in the specification of their substations. There are different degrees of commitments:
The use of Ethernet makes it also possible to synchronize the system using PTP (Precision Time Protocol). The same optical fiber used to communicate allows removing the IRIG-B wiring if the switches and the equipment use the IEEE-1588v2 specification.
At the same time the use of the IEC 61850 standard and the GOOSE messages affects to the electric diagrams. The GOOSE messages must be documented and the devices that use that information identified to check their status during the maintenance tasks.
IEC 61850 includes a test mode used to check the equipment functionality without disturbing its normal operation. The utilities need to evaluate if the test mode fulfils their requirements and to specify its inclusion in the required equipment. Of course, its use should be included in the maintenance procedures.
Originally the IEC 61850 standard applied only to the automation of the electrical substations. Nowadays several groups within IEC are working to define an information model to automate several other energy system areas as:
In 2017 we are using IEC 61850 edition 2 and working in its first amendment 2.1. Edition 2 includes:
The amendment to the edition 2 (edition 2.1) includes the resolution of mistakes that cannot wait for the edition 3 and also some improvements in the engineering processes.
The edition 3 is supposed to include:
ENSOTEST is a company that develops test automation tools for IEC 61850 protocol. UCA International Users Group.
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Categories: IEC standards , Electric power, Smart grid