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Introduction to IEC 61850

IEC 61850 is the international Standard applicable to Substation Automation systems (SAS). It provides the engineering definitions and processes for configuration and parameterization of the functions required for communication between intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) in the substation, and the related system requirements.

Specifying, Implementing And Testing IEC 61850 Based Protection Schemes
Specifying, Implementing And Testing IEC 61850 Based Protection Schemes

It is therefore not a protocol itself but rather the configuration of IEDs with interoperability to communicate using a protocol.


Not a Protocol

The title of the Standard is: “Communication networks and systems for power utility automation”. Whilst the title of the standard refers to communication, this is in the respect of the engineering processes to configure the IEDs and functions to be able to communicate between each other with interoperability using appropriate protocols as the delivery mechanism.

“Interoperability is a property of a product or system, whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, present or future, without any restricted access or implementation.”

“Mere” protocols don’t ensure realistic or practical use can be made of the information for any or all of these or other reasons.

Hence the communication process can be said to be “not interoperable” without extensive additional effort by the recipient or on the part of the sender to obtain or provide additional explanation.

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