4 Exciting Applications of IEC 61850 at the Grid Edge

IEC 61850 Blog

As the use of IEC 61850 to provide protection, automation and control of substation equipment proliferates across global smart grids, new applications of the standard at the grid edge are becoming an increasingly large focus for innovation teams and R&D departments.

Here are a few ways that companies are applying IEC 61850 to monitor, control and protect grid edge assets:

Vehicle-to-Grid Services

Protocols that facilitate interoperability between vehicles and chargers, in particular OCPP, are well-established, but IEC 61850 extends this interoperability to other power system actors, enabling a wider range of vehicle-to-grid services.

IEC 61850-90-8 outlines modelling of e-mobility standards related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, enabling efficient interoperation with other power system actors as defined in other sections of the standard. The charging schedules of electric vehicles can then be regulated to meet the demands of the wider system, balancing out fluctuations in demand and improving the quality of supply.

Hybrid Wind & Storage

On particularly windy days, surplus energy is often generated by wind assets, especially in areas with a high penetration of wind power. Partnering wind assets with storage technology provides a way of capturing this excess power, preventing the need to disconnect the assets and waste the energy.

IEC 61400-25 provides an extension for IEC 61850 in the wind power domain, enabling complex control of wind power in conjunction with storage. This creates a virtual power plant that can provide services to grid such as primary reserve and reactive power, as well as being able to operate in islanded mode and store excess wind power.

A collaboration between Vattenfall, Nordex and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences implements this concept, partnering a 1 MW battery with a 13 MW wind farm to investigate the operation and integration of hybrid systems and assess ways of improving turbine life.

Combined Heat and Power

Reducing the carbon footprint of heating is a key regulatory priority in order to meet climate change targets. Combined heat and power systems provide an attractive way to do this, producing heat as a byproduct of electricity generation. While simply installing a CHP system in a large building can produce efficiency savings, providing grid services through intelligent control with IEC 61850 will have further benefits for both the system owner and the wider grid. Frequency response, standby power and load frequency control can all be achieved with CHP plants, all the while providing heating for local residents and business.

The CHPCOM project, a Danish collaboration between EURISCO, Dansk Energi and Energinet, is the first implementation of this kind, generating new possibilities for the Danish utilities market through improved data exchange.


IEC 61850-7-420 defines control and communication interfaces for DER devices including reciprocating engines, fuel cells, microturbines, photovoltaics, combined heat and power, and energy storage. This enables intelligent control of complex systems in both islanded and grid-connected modes.

While other protocols can be used to achieve this, IEC 61850 supports advanced control and monitoring possibilities, enabling the delivery of complex services such as demand response to improve the flexibility of the wider grid.


The power system is fundamentally changing, and IEC 61850 can play a key role in delivering a more decentralized energy system through advanced control of grid edge assets. While the potential impact is huge, these implementations are in their relative infancy when compared with the more established substation applications.

At this year’s IEC 61850 Global conference, exhibition and networking forum, an entire day will focus on “Future Applications of IEC 61850 in New Domains”, providing a crucial forum for leaders of innovative projects to exchange lessons learnt and discuss a combined direction for IEC 61850 at the grid edge.

To find out more information about the event, visit https://www.smartgrid-forums.com/forums/iec-61850-global-2019/