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Substation Automation – The IEC61850 Standard

​​​​​​​​​​​​Multiple protocols currently exist in the area of substation automation, but which are often not compatible with each other. 

The IEC61850 Standard for the design of electrical substation automation addresses many crucial aspects of TSO communications, data modeling and engineering in order to reach seamless interoperability of different vendors’ subsystems within the TSO system management architecture.


IEC61850 Update: July 2017

It is now one year that the latest IEC 61850 Update was published. During that year, ENTSO-E Ad Hoc Group IEC 61850 continued to intensively work on the improvement of the IEC 61850 standard interoperability on two main domains:

  • At information level (data semantic), the development of the ENTSO-E profile through the Interoperability Specification Tool (ISTool)

  • At engineering level, by consolidating ENTSO-E requirements that have been formalized into a DC (Document for Comment), approved through the IEC National Committees (NC) voting process, and now encapsulated in the action plan of several task forces of the IEC TC 57 WG10

ENTSO-E profile

The following achievements can be summarized as follow:

  • From a tool perspective (as enabler of the profile), the development of the Interoperability Specification Tool is completed for the main functionalities allowing to develop the profile and to integrate the results as input of the specification process (ISTool export features). In a next step, advanced functionalities will be implemented (CIM features and settings, this last one being dependent on standardization progress)

  • From a content perspective, Ad-Hoc Group finalized the distance protection as pilot exercise and the mapping of it was performed till the signals level during the last WG10 meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea (18-22 June 2017). This allowed to formally identify gaps at subfunctions and signals levels within IEC 61850 standard. As a next step, Ad-Hoc Group will define all the subfunctions and associated signals based on the functions of the different domains already identified. The target date for the whole ENTSO-E profile completion is mid-2019 (see roadmap below)


Engineering process

The following achievements can be summarized as follow:

  • Integration of the ENTSO-E requirements on engineering process in several taskforces of IEC TC57 WG10:

  • The input and data flow modeling between functions and the concept of virtual IED is integrated as main scope of the WG10 TF 6-100

  • The additional capability description features of IEDs in order to get an efficient and transparent engineering/purchasing process, as well the system engineering efficiency and the substation communication network description in SCL is dealt within the WG10 TF Engineering Enhancement.


A comprehensive virtual model of the IED at the specification stage will allow in a machine readable way to drastically enhance the purchasing process of IEDs (transparency, efficiency, …) throughout all the ENTSO-E members, independently of their respective purchasing policies (frame agreement driven, specific project driven, …).

In that context, ENTSO-E is also glad to see that a new WG10 TF has been launched on the initiative of the Canadian NC on the HMI (Human Machine Interface) that will allow to automatically generate supervision one-line diagrams and associated data objects (primary equipment statuses, alarms, …) at all levels of the substation control (IED, RTU, …), as well as at the control center level. ENTSO-E fully supports this initiative perfectly framing with engineering efficiency as benefit for the Community.

Finally, the global roadmap of these major improvements in terms of interoperability and efficiency is as below:



Last but not least, ENTSO-E would like to remind the market of the importance of the next UCA IUG IOP 2017 that will occur on 15th-19th of October 2017 in New Orleans, US. The interoperability tests platform (IOP) is, as a reminder, the ideal playground to help:

  • vendors to improve their products,

  • users to understand the standard and technologies/products developed around it, and be aware and active in technology evolution and finally,

  • WG10 to improve the standard

At this next IOP, ENTSO-E would like to see some tests framing with the engineering process improvements mentioned above and hope to see a massive participation of vendors, allowing testing various combinations of multi-vendor system tools but also IEDs and their associated engineering tools.

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For further information, please contact Olivier Aine, Standardisation & Interoperability Advisor.