IEC 61850 - The Way to Seamless Communications in Substations

H. Schubert and G. Wong (Germany)


Substation. Communication. Protocol. Automation. Interoperability


Substation automation has evolved gradually in parallel with digital technology and since the mid-1980s, also with communication technology. Meeting the requirements of the users, existing substation automation systems enhance the reliability of power networks. Supporting the exchange of data, communication protocols have become important elements in these automation systems. Owing to technological evolutions, protocols were established to cover different small areas of a system, e.g. communications between a protection device and the station controller. The consequence is that equipment from different manufacturers in a substation cannot often talk to each other, unless gateways are used. Simplifying the flows of data and covering all the substation automation functions, IEC 61850 is the forthcoming global standard for communications in substations. Being future-oriented, the standard is expected to safeguard the investments of the utilities.

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