IEC 61850: Optimising protection and control

The 2003 introduction of the IEC 61850 standard brought about a fundamental change in control and automation. It was now possible for power system protection, control and automation devices and systems to communicate with one another, irrespective of manufacturer
IEC 61850’s single communications protocol means that it is possible to eliminate protocol converters, which translate signals between different communication protocols. This has speeded up response times, with other benefits being more straightforward design and installation, and a wealth of information to support asset management.

IEC 61850 implementation
In cases where IEC 61850 is retrofitted on top of a substation’s existing relays, top-level data follows the protocol but individual relays often require additional configuration and use of protocol converters.

Genuine IEC 61850 implementation means installing protection and control IEDs (intelligent electronic devices) enabled for the standard, meaning the full benefits of the standard can be exploited. ABB’s Relion® IEDs allow simultaneous use of IEC 61850 and a legacy protocol, enabling users to shift to the new standard in a controlled manner.

It also paves the way for fast and secure peer-to-peer GOOSE (Generic Object Oriented Substation Event) communication, which will create an alarm should communication fail. Because GOOSE enables IEDs to exchange information over an Ethernet-based network, it saves the cost of hard wiring a conventional root and branch communications layout and brings inherent security.

Building a rail power supply that tolerates faults
Preventing any impact on rail operation is critical and the IEC 61850 standard uses a structure that supports this function. In common with the smart grids being introduced by power utilities, it offers several options for redundant communication.

HSR (High Availability Seamless Redundancy) offers redundancy by sending messages through both directions in the same network and detecting broken communication links and alarming the user accordingly. With PRP (Parallel Redundancy Protocol), a message from an IED is sent through two identical independent networks thus removing the risk of communication breakdown in case there is a fault in one of the networks.

Both of these redundancy solutions ensure that the breakdown of a single component in the communication network will not impact the system as a whole.

IEC 61850 provides protection and control for rail applications