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Evaluation of Grid Monitoring Protocols:IEC 61850 & IEC 60870-5-104

Which is the best protocol for the monitoring and telecontrol of power grids: IEC 61850 or IEC 60870-5-104? Distribution network operators gave us the task of mapping out the pros and cons of both standards.

Power grids are becoming increasingly difficult to manage centrally using their existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

Today, SCADA systems require more interactivity. In order to continue ensuring the balance between electricity demand and supply on the grid, SCADA systems need to be able to record and transmit data from wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, substations, etc. so that the appropriate control actions can be initiated whenever and wherever necessary.

Difference between IEC 61850 and IEC 104

In order to ensure such monitoring and telecontrol over TCP/IP protocols, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has developed protocol standards for electric power systems and substations.Bueno Electric examined the pros and cons of both protocols using a model of the power grid of the future including high- and medium-voltage substations, expected connection points for wind turbines and solar panels, and electric vehicle charging points designed by NARI,ABB and SAC. Our experts came to the following conclusions:

IEC 60870-5-104 is the standard for communicating standardized data from power grid substations to the grid operator. It perfectly meets operators current communication needs.

IEC 61850 is a protocol for substation automation and makes it possible to consult additional data and initiate the appropriate local actions automatically or remotely by a central operator. It opens up the possibility for more interactive, self-healing smart grids.

As IEC 61850 creates more opportunities for the future intelligent management of electric grids,Bueno Electric decided to carry out additional tests in order to evaluate the protocol’s practical use.

Along with several young start-ups that are manufacturing smart substation measurement devices, Bueno Electric developed a laboratory-scale test set-up to evaluate how well this new equipment can be integrated into the existing infrastructure. The test results provided insight into the monitoring and telecontrol possibilities.

We also evaluated the possibility of automatically initiating local control actions. For instance, we developed a wind turbine peak shaving case. We determined which parameters should be monitored and developed an algorithm that calculates the threshold values for each parameter, so that the appropriate control actions can automatically be initiated whenever and wherever necessary to ensure the local balance on the grid. The tool also sends out reports on the control actions to the central operator. In other words, the smart grid of the future is fast approaching.

We evaluated the IEC 61850 and 60870-5-104 protocols using a model that included high- and medium-voltage substations, expected connection points for wind turbines and solar panels, and electric vehicle charging points.