Home ┬╗ How to Implement IEC 61850 in Power Systems

How to Implement IEC 61850 in Power Systems

by Uneeb Khan

The international standard IEC 61850 specifies communication protocols to enable communication amongst various substation equipment, including intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) and protection, control, and measurement equipment.

This standard has been quite successful in substation communication networks and systems management since its initial release. These days, it’s used in other industries as well, such as wind energy and EV charging, in addition to the utility sector.

Service Implementation of IEC 61850

The MMS service, the GOOSE service, and the SV service are the three components of the IEC 61850 standard’s service implementation.

MMS Service

In IEC 61850, MMS functions as the message protocol, enabling device-to-device communication. It allows for reliable and quick communication over typical Ethernet networks. Data interchange inside a substation is supported by this protocol. According to the IEC 61850 standard, the MMS Service is utilised between the Station Level and the Bay Level. It uses object-oriented modelling of the real devices to achieve interoperability between various industrial devices in a network environment.

GOOSE Service

IEC 61850 provides a quick messaging system called GOOSE (Generic Object Oriented Substation Event) for sending critical real-time signals between IEDs in a substation. GOOSE communications are transmitted across the substation’s Ethernet network, improving speed and flexibility in protection schemes, in contrast to older techniques that relied on hardwired connections.

SV Service

The most widely used service for real-time measurement data in smart substations is Sampled Value Transmission at the Process Level, which uses the SV (Sampled Values). IEC 61850 introduces a breakthrough concept called the SV process, which makes it possible to digitise analogue signals. This means that data is sampled, transformed to digital data, and sent over the Ethernet network in place of conventional copper cables carrying current and voltage signals. This improves precision while also simplifying the wiring.

IEC 61850 in Power Systems

Implementing IEC 61850 has several advantages for power systems. First of all, it promotes device interoperability among manufacturers, decreasing reliance on particular suppliers and enhancing system design flexibility. Additionally, it increases system reliability by lowering the possibility of errors or malfunctions due to standardised communication. It is essential for novices wishing to use IEC 61850 to begin with a thorough understanding of the devices and substation design. To guarantee smooth communication, MMS, GOOSE messaging, and SV process bus configuration must be done correctly. Comprehensive testing and validation are also essential phases in the implementation process.

Process Bus Interface

The substation yard’s analogue interface units interface with either traditional or non-traditional instrument transformers, sending the sampled current and voltage values over fibre. This reduces, in some cases completely eliminates, the amount of copper wires needed between the primary substation equipment and the protection, control, and measurement devices.

True Interoperability

There is only one protocol required in the substation. Thus, split path connections and expensive gateways are eliminated. On a single Substation Bus network, peer-to-peer messages, control commands, disruption file transfers, and event-driven reports are interspersed. The standard’s definition of the substation configuration language is a breakthrough in the relevant engineering process. IEC 61850-compatible IEDs are self-descriptive, which facilitates quicker system integration and commissioning. Multi-vendor settings can function seamlessly with IEC 61850-enabled IEDs due to standardised data classes and services.

Modelling Approach

A thorough methodology for organising data consistently across all device kinds and manufacturers is provided by IEC 61850 for power system equipment. Because the devices can set themselves up, much of the laborious non-power system configuration work is eliminated. An IEC 61850 relay, for example, may recognise a CT/VT input and automatically allocate it to a measuring unit without requiring user input. Some devices configure their objects using a SCL file, which the engineer just needs to load into the device in order to configure it. The object specifications can then be downloaded from the device via the network via the IEC 61850 client programme. 

A physical device is the first element of the IEC 61850 device model. The device attached to the network is called a physical device. Usually, the network address of a device defines its physical characteristics. There could be one or more logical devices contained in every physical device. By enabling a single physical device to serve as a proxy or gateway for several devices, the IEC 61850 logical device model offers a common illustration of a data concentrator.

IEC 61850 Implementation Changes

If utilities want to benefit from IEC 61850, they must overcome a few key implementation obstacles. The main difficulties consist of:

Time Synchronisation

Time-sensitive protocols like GOOSE and Sampled Values are used in a lot of IEC 61850 applications. Solutions that can precisely and consistently provide time synchronisation utilising the power utility flavour of IEEE 1588 via the WAN to the substation LAN are required by utilities.

New Bandwidth Requirements

Compared to conventional systems like SCADA, IEC 61850-enabled protection and control systems and monitoring apps like synchrophasor will require more bandwidth. The aggregated communication of substation rings, in conjunction with new substation IT systems like CCTV, may push bandwidth requirements over 1 Gb/s. In order to satisfy these expectations, utilities will require networks that can scale seamlessly.

New Expertise, More Teamwork

IEC 61850 calls for new kinds of knowledge and multidisciplinary implementation. The application, development, data centre networking, and security teams of utilities must collaborate with a robust telecom team capable of managing networks and communication throughout the wide area network (WAN), field area network (FAN), and substation local area network (LAN).


Power system communication and substation automation have been transformed by IEC 61850. In the area of substation automation, IEC 61850 is a revolutionary standard. It improves the efficiency and dependability of power systems by standardising communication protocols and adding novel ideas like SV process bus and GOOSE messaging. Adopting this standard gives beginners in the fields of electrical engineering and power grid management unprecedented opportunities. You will be in a great position to lead the charge in determining the direction of power systems if you have a strong foundation in IEC 61850.

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