R&D Nester helps develop the IEC 61850 international standard


Ricardo Cartaxo, a researcher at R&D Nester and REN's representative in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850 Working Group of the ENTSO-E, proposed the "description of the communication network" optimization to IEC 61850. This proposal has already been accepted, after several National Committees voted favourably in mid-2017.

The description of the communication network will comprise the topology, the types of ports and the bandwidth, among other characteristics. This way, the communication network devices will be fully integrated in the protection, automation and control (PAC) system.

This lack of description by the substation configuration language (SCL) was one of the results of the "Substation of the Future" project, carried out at R&D Nester, in which Ricardo was one of the researchers.

The IEC 61850 Working Group seeks to improve the "engineering process", creating a common profile for the TSOs that are members of the ENTSO-E and carrying out a gap analysis in view of the IEC 61850 standard, thus proposing new possibilities for the SCL.

IEC 61850 is the state-of-the-art communication standard, used by power companies in the energy system. The main objectives of the IEC 61850 are the promotion of high interoperability between systems from different manufacturers and suppliers; the creation of a common method/format for storage of the complete data, the definition of a complete set of tests required for equipment according to the standard, the creation of a single standard for the full modelling of the different data types required in a substation, and the definition of essential services required for data transfer in order for communication to be future-proof.

The definite use of SCL to specify and configure the protection, automation and control (PAC) system is the so-called "engineering process". The IEC 61850 standard does not standardize the engineering process, i.e., the SCL files can be used in different ways to achieve the same goal.

In addition to the real-time communication between the PAC system's devices, IEC 61850 also considers the SCL, used in the specification and configuration phases of a PAC system. The SCL, based on XML, describes not only the PAC system, but also the substation's topology and the associated functions.

The IEC 61850 Working Group is in close cooperation with Working Group 10, Technical Committee 57 of the International Electrotechnical Commission, responsible for the publication of IEC 61850, in order for the results to be implemented in future editions of the standard.

Initially restricted to substations, the IEC 61850 standard is now also applied between substations and between substations and dispatch centres.

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