Smart grids providing for power utility automation are fundamental for the energy turnaround. TÜV SÜD supports the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) in the demand for improved implementation of the IEC 61850 communication standard which is key to the communication process.
"The IEC 61850 standard defines a suitable uniform communication framework for the grids of the future," says Maurizio Scavazzon, Principal Engineer Smart Grid and Global Product Manager IEC 61850 at the Embedded Systems department of TÜV SÜD AG in Munich. "However, the implementation of this standard is still very sluggish." Germany, for example, has primarily focused to date on designing high-voltage grids in accordance with the IEC 61850 standard, while the number of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) supporting this standard in the medium- and low-voltage grids is still insufficient. Electricity transmission system operators (TSOs) therefore face the challenge of having to transform their entire infrastructure into a smart grid. To do so, they depend on equipment manufacturers to supply IEDs that demonstrably conform with uniform standards. Maurizio Scavazzon: "We need a high degree of standardization to ensure reliable communication and interoperability in a multi-vendor environment. This is critical for ensuring the security and reliability of future smart grids."
The Brussels-based European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has now announced a list of demands including a call to standardization committees to step up their efforts to ensure uniform implementation of the IEC 61850 standard. Further areas in need of improvement include the interfaces between smart-grid components made by different manufacturers and their real-time interoperability over their lifetime. The ENTSO-E also calls for the reinforcement of conformance certifications of products and technical innovations to optimise the ratio between quality of services and solution costs regarding grid maintenance. ENTSO-E represents 41 transmission system operators from 34 European countries. The IEC 61850 communication standard enables Ethernet communication between electricity producers, consumers and distributors based, for example, on TCP/IP transfer protocols and simple configuration via XML files.