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Monitoring and Telecontrol of Power Grids: IEC 61850 or IEC 60870-5-104?

Evaluating the two main communication protocols

Grid of the future

Laborelec 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.

Which is the best protocol for the monitoring and telecontrol of power grids: IEC 61850 or IEC 60870-5-104? Belgian distribution network operators Eandis, Ores, and Sibelga gave Laborelec 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.

What is the difference between the two protocols?

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. Laborelec 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 Eandis, Ores, and Sibelga. Our experts came to the following conclusions:

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

How well do smart substation devices fit into the current infrastructure?

Along with several young start-ups that are manufacturing smart substation measurement devices, we 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.

Is it possible to automatically initiate local control actions?

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.

Laborelec 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.

How to increase the interactivity of your power grid control system?

Phone: +32 (0)2 382 02 08
info.laborelec@engie.com