IEC 61850 & Power Utility Automation

About IEC 61850l

Abstract - In 21st century, managing energy consumption is a major issue confronting many industrial companies & facilities. To control the hardware/software of the power substation more efficiently, and also achieve the highest efficiency of the output electricity, UL Group, the leading company of “Networking and Communication solutions”, combined with professional research and development team, puts great emphasis on this issue. This paper provides general information about the UL SMART GRID solutions which includes IEC 61850 Ethernet Switches and Protocol Converters.


IEC 61850 is the new Ethernet-based international standard for communication in power generation facilities and substations. The goal of this standard is to integrate all of the protection, control, measurement, and monitoring functions within a substation, and to provide the means for high-speed substation protection applications, interlocking and intertripping. These devices are generally referred to as Intelligent Electronic Devices (IED).

IEC 61850 uses object-oriented methods to provide logical communications between substations, primary process equipment, and secondary devices. Using object-oriented concepts, IEC 61850 abstracts the information models from the communication details. It also defines engineering process and conformance testing.

Communication System Needs:

Communication has always played a critical role in the real-time operation of the power system. In the beginning, the telephone was used to communicate line loadings back to the control center as well as to dispatch operators to perform switching operations at substations. Telephone-switching based remote control units were available as early as the 1930’s and were able to provide status and control for a few points. As digital communications became a viable option in the 1960’s, data acquisition systems (DAS) were installed to automatically collect measurement data from the substations. Since bandwidth was limited, DAS communication protocols were optimized to operate over low-bandwidth communication channels. The “cost” of this optimization was the time it took to configure, map, and document the location of the various data bits received by the protocol.

Legacy substation automation protocols and architectures typically provided basic functionality for power system automation and were designed to accommodate the technical limitations of the networking technology available for implementation. There has recently been a vast improvement in networking technology that has changed dramatically what is now feasible for power system automation in the substation. Technologies such as switched Ethernet, TCP/IP, high-speed wide area networks, and high-performance low-cost computers are providing capabilities that could barely be imagined when most legacy substation automation protocols were designed. IEC61850 is an important new international standard for substation automation that will have a very significant impact on how electric power systems are designed and built for many years to come. IEC61850 is a part of the International Electrotechnical Commission's (IEC) Technical Committee 57 (TC57) architecture for electric power systems. The model-driven approach of the TC57 standards, including IEC61850, is an innovative approach that requires a new way of thinking about substation automation that will result in very significant improvements in both costs and performance of electric power systems. This half-day IEC61850 tutorial takes a practical approach to helping utility engineers understand how IEC61850 can be used to benefit their organization. The tutorial begins by explaining why these standards are important, how they differ from legacy technology, and how these differences benefit users. The student is then guided through the IEC61850 standard itself to illustrate how IEC68150 delivers these benefits via standardized device, object, and service models. Definitions and overviews of the most important concepts are presented with detailed examples that relate to actual power systems

  • High-speed IED to IED communication
  • Networkable throughout the utility enterprise
  • Guaranteed delivery times
  • Standards based
  • Multi-vendor interoperability
  • Support for Voltage and Current samples data
  • Support for File Transfer
  • Auto-configurable / configuration support
  • Support for security

About UL-ORing Ethernet Switches:

UL Group has tie-up with ORing Industrial Networking Corp., the global leading brand company, focuses on innovation of industrial networking products. Over the years, UL Group successfully expands sales and services channels all over the world to provide customers real time services. UL Group has vivid product line, such as industrial grade media converter, Ethernet switch, wireless router and device server. Our solutions have been successfully applied for in many applications through the world, such as Railway/Highway monitoring, Intelligent Transportation System, Building Automation and etc. Our aim is to provide innovative and user friendly products/solutions.

UL Ethernet solutions are passed the IEC 61850-3 and IEEE1613 certifications. This multi-port Din-Rail, Wall-Mount and Rack-mount managed Ethernet switches are specialized for the power substation. Also, it is the greatest solution for this specific problem of large-scale distributed electric grid. That’s why UL Group is right solution for SMART GRID industry.

To offer the more flexible applications under different circumstances and make the network planning more easily, UL Group offer Gigabit high-speed Ethernet, Fiber and combo ports with SFP ports. The power input redundancy of 12~48VDC on dual 2-pin terminal block with LV and 85~264VAC/88~373VDC on dual 3-pin terminal block with HV increases the stability of communication, but also enhances the reliability of the system. Meanwhile, to solve the limit space problem of junction box in working conditions, UL Group offers the useful solution equipped the LED in front and Line in back design, it can easily solve

the limitation of wiring space problem; moreover, it prevents the destruction of associated wiring configuration, it keeps the fineness and function in the same time. Another feature is worth to notice, UL Group solutions available with network management software Open Vision V3.6 - the self-developed and self-made software by ORing Industrial Network Corp., offering the clients free usage for 50 machines with network equipment. Through the Open Vision V3.6, users can control and monitor the status of all switches remotely. When the surveillance system failures occurred, Open Vision V3.6 offers the real time alarm warning and other associated functions. Meanwhile, through the IGMP v2/v3 (IGMP snooping), it can filter multicast traffic in the industrial Ethernet protocol efficiently. The operating temperature range of UL Switches from -400C to +850C,which is suitable for power substation and any harsh industrial environment. Therefore UL Group is surly the best choice for all the proprietors.

Network Architecture for SMART GRID

About IEC Gateways:

A gateway is a device used to convert standard or proprietary protocol of one device to the protocol suitable for the other device or tools to achieve the interoperability. Protocols are software installed on the routers, which convert the data formats, data rate and protocols of one network into the protocols of the network in which data is navigating.

There are varieties of protocols used in different fields like Power Generation, Transmission & Distribution, Oil & Gas, Automation, Utilities, AMR, and Remote Monitoring applications. The major protocol translation messages involve conversion of data messages, events, commands, and time synchronization.

Solve Smart Grid communication challenges by using UL SMART GRID-gateways Solutions.

SMART GRID-gateways are designed to enable communication between industrial automation systems and control systems. They can also be used for networking equipment within these systems. The integrated Web-PLC enables the SMART GRID-gateway to be used as information-bridge between two systems, or to execute simple automation functions.

The UL SMART GRID-gateway supports the communication protocols used in the energy sector, e.g. IEC60870-5-104 CLIENT/SERVER AND IEC61850 CLIENT/SERVER + 3G and enables connectivity for energy devices to which works on Ethernet-IP, Modbus-RTU/TCP, M-Bus, Profibus and Profinet protocol.

  • Enable easy remote control and management of electrical systems.
  • Support IEC 61850 client/server, GOOSE, proxy gateway, IEC 60870-5-104 client/server and VHPready.
  • Provide Modbus-TCP client/server and Modbus-RTU master/slave interfaces.
  • Enable SNMP, SNTP, and cloud connectivity
  • Provide I/O, M-Bus, PROFIBUS, PROFINET and EtherNet/IP interfaces
  • Are safe – firewall, OpenVPN & password protection




The customer wants to monitor all Relay & Energy Meter parameters from the centralized SCADA/Control System. SCADA/Controller works on IEC61850 protocol.


Firstly, we confirmed that the data and functionality of each energy meter as it is work as salve or master in the network. Then we suggested Modbus to IEC 61850 protocol gateway which will convert Modbus data of energy meter into IEC-61850 protocol. Also some relays which work on IEC61850 Protocol to extend that data up-to substation, we suggested UL-ORing Ethernet switch support IEC61850 protocol. And finally collect all data at centralized SCADA/Controlling system over IEC-61850 protocol.