Standard profiles – key to high interoperability
Like other prominent smart grid core standards, IEC 61850 was developed with the goal to increase „Interoperability“ in power utility automation. Although IEC 61850 has succeeded across the board in the market, users and vendors still often have a different understanding what interoperability means. This created great expectations in the past, but also turned in some disappointment, when IEC 61850 products did not provide easily that quality of interoperability in real multi vendor systems.
The intention of this paper is to give a precise definition of interoperability, demonstrated in the context of IEC 61850. It is shown, that this definition is not restricted to IEC 61850 only, the definition is applicable to smart grid standards in general.
The proposed definition has been identified - both in a user and vendor perspective - through numerous discussions in international standardization, user group and customer project meetings. By this definition, the terms “plug-and-play” and “interchangeability” are explained in respect to interoperability. The authors make clear, that interoperability is a matter of effort – meaning that sophisticated specifications are essential to achieve a high quality of interoperability in practice.
Therefore this paper introduces “standard profiles” as a method for defining IEC 61850 specifications. It is shown, how standard profiles reduce complexity of IEC 61850 and consequently help to increase the quality of interoperability.
The practical use of such standard profiles can be validated by interoperability tests. Interoperability tests were conducted to proof product interoperability, but can only state that the tested products are interoperable to respect to the underlying standard profile. Nevertheless these tests proof that even interchangeability can be achieved by using standard profiles.
As a result, this paper concludes, that a standard profile definition is the key to increased product interoperability and satisfied market expectations.