APTP Articles

Getting in Motion with IEC 61850: Three Essential Practices

Substation automation based on IEC 61850 is providing tangible benefits in electrical systems around the world. The principal advantage of implementing the IEC 61850
standard is interoperability between intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) comprising the substation network. 

Protection, control and supervision algorithms create automated processes enabled by consistent and predictable exchanges of digital signals over Ethernet between IEDs across substation networks as defined by the standard.

IEC 61850 technologies impact personnel who engineer and test protection and control systems. They must supplement their knowledge of protection theory and conventional relay applications with network troubleshooting skills in digital substation environments. In addition to developing new expertise, they need proper tools for the job of building and maintaining IEC 61850 architectures.

Doble F6880 Digital Network Analyzer

Whether your organization is already online with IEC 61850 implementations, or is actively planning substation automation initiatives, or is merely taking a new look to see how far digital protection and control technologies have advanced, these three practices assure good results with decisions and investments:

1. Study the IEC 61850 standard

Substation automation is a multifaceted subject. The IEC 61850 standard comprises numerous associated standards for technologies related to the time, speed, and qualities of digital signals. 

Involve key engineering staff and devote time for a thorough reading of the IEC 61850 body of standards. Conduct research and collaborate over which standards apply within system designs. Two important standards to review include:

  • IEEE 1588 for network clock synchronization specifying PTP (Precision Time Protocol) 
  • IEC 62439-3:2016 for seamless recovery from a network failure specifying Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) and High-availability Seamless Redundancy (HSR)

The upfront investments of time and energy pay off when selecting IEDs and other products to use in IEC 61850 applications. Armed with knowledge, require vendors to provide third-party certification proving their products meet the chosen standards.

By Joe Stevenson, Product Marketing Manager – Protection Software, Altanova