You are on page 1of 3


Specification and evaluation of

substation automation systems
Information from Cigré

The goal of the Cigré working group B5.18 was to provide guidelines for the preparation of such specifications and to furnish supporting
information and methods for the evaluation of the different offers submitted by the bidders.

These recommendations for preparation of

specifications are based on the experiences
of utilities and supported by the research
and development of the suppliers. Those
for the evaluation itself are derived from the
experiences of some utilities.

A sustainable specification for substation

automation shall ideally be prepared in
such a way that it is focusing on functionality,
performance, reliability, evaluation, project
management and services to ensure a fair
participation and evaluation of the bidders.

Technical requirements

Basic technical requirements

Fig. 1: Abstract system architecure based on IEC 61850.
The basic technical requirements are the
minimum that is required to describe a
substation automation system, and shall
System architecture (integrated web server)
ensure that bidders have all necessar y
A typical system architecture is divided into • IEC 61850-8-1 at the station level
information to provide a proper offer covering
the needs of the buyer. three levels: • Interbay communication (GOOSE -
Generic Object Oriented Substation
This basic technical description shall at least - process level Event ) at bay level
cover the following, areas: - bay level Impact if IEC 61850
• Functional requirements - station level
To be able to answer the question: "What is
- system functions Depending on the actual application area,
the impact of the standard IEC 61850 on
- supervision functions the system architechtecture might be one
the specification of n substation automation
with single communication andjlust a single
- control functions systems?" it is important to understand the
gateway at the station level, or it might be
- protection functions basic features of IEC 61850.
a system with full redundancy at all three
• Performance requirements These are:
• Environmental and EMC requirements
Fig. 1 illustrates one example of an architecture • Coverage of all communication needs
• Reliability/availability requirements
based on IEC 61850. It shows the architecture in the substation, i.e. of/by both the so
Information management called station bus and process bus.
with logical connections. The allocation of
In addition to the local functionality at functions to devices is not defined herein. • No specification of functions but the
the substation level itself, the substation provision of a data model for the functions
The main characteristics of an IEC 61850 and their communication needs i.e. it
automation system in most cases also needs
based system architecture are: does not block the future development
to provide information for users outside the
substation. Depending on the targeted • Openness due to IEC 61850 and other of functions.
user, the type and amount of information industrial standards like Ethernet, OPC, • Support of free allocation of functions to
that needs to be provided varies. Two main etc. devices i.e. it is open for different system
areas for information management can be • Seamless 100 Mbps Ethernet structure philosophies.
identified: • Definition of Ethernet as layer I and 2
• Interoperability defined by IEC 61850
• Integration of SA with network control of the ISO/OSI reference model i.e. it
• Client server architecture
provides the wide range of features of
• Provision of data to remote users such • B a y i n t e r l o c k i n g / a u t o m a t i o n i s mainstream communication.
as: independent from station level
- protection engineers • Provision of the substation configuration
• Optional functional redundancy of HMI description language (SCL), i.e. it supports
- perational and maintenance centres
- planning and asset management and station computer comprehensive consistency in system
centres • WEB based test and diagnosis at bay level definition and engineering.

energize - December 2007 - Page 27

The consequences of the features of the IEC Deployment phase Table 1 gives an overview of the main goals
61850 standard therefore are: of the different tests.
This part of the specification only concerns
• The functions have to be specified same substation refurbishment projects that have It also makes sense to check the status on
as before i.e. independent of the use of to deal with more severe erection constraints the quality assurance and project plan.
IEC 61850. compared to new substation projects. Inspections shall be carried out during tests.
• It has to be decided whether the Based on hold and witness points indicated
The aim is to establish an erection strategy
selection of devices is left to the supplier for substation automation systems in existing, in the test plan, this inspection will provide
or is limited by some pre-selection of energised substations that have the target information and confidence as to the quality
devices homologated by the utility. to: of the tests, and reduce the risk of failure
during factory acceptance tests or site
• Availability figures or failure scenarios
• minimize outages acceptance tests, with all potentially related
have to be discussed to get the
• minimize operational constraints costs and problems thereof.
most appropriate communication
architecture. • minimize software and site engineering
• The environmental conditions have to be
This provides a safe and cost effective Services shall cover all items that are needed
specified very much the same as before
approach. Many tools and methods are likely by the customer to enable him to run and
but some of these conditions might
to achieve the goals, such as: maintain the delivered system. The areas
be decisive criteria for the selection of
covered by services are:
the communication architecture and, • configuration flexibility of the system
especially, of the communication media • contractual aspects warranties
• quality of the utility site data inputs (site
e.g. copper cable or glass fiber. diagrams, site information) penalties
• If the switchgear including the CTs and VTs • various "software" tools, avoiding less • training
already exists, its given type of process efficient and less reliable "hardware" • documentation
interface is important information for the wiring, and cabling tasks or minimising • maintainability
substation automation specification. additional hardware and interface
• extendability
• If the process interface can be selected costs during on site erection (temporary
(conventionally hardwired or serially interposing relays, etc.) Weighting of requirements
linked) this might have some important Based on feedback from utilities and The basis for the evaluation process is
impacts on the optimization process for manufacturers' proposals, several erection established at the customer specification
the solution to be offered. approaches might be considered: phase. At this stage, the utility is defining the
Project management and services technical and functional requirements for
• fully parallel erection
the equipment, system and services, as well
The project management and service part • bay level migration
as for the project management. Both basic
of a specification covers the aspects that go • remote control migration (mandatory) and optional requirements for
beyond the technical specification.
Acceptance tests the system may be set. Already at this stage, it
Engineering phase is also important and necessary to determine
Acceptance tests are intended to verity
tangible performance requirements and
During the engineering phase, the following that the substation automation system is in
weighting factors for intangible attributes.
milestones are very important and have to conformance with functional, technological
and performance specification, that it is free The second stage of evaluation is carried
be agreed upon between the manufacturers
from failures and operates as intended. The out when utilities are selecting between
and users:
acceptance test also provides a security for tendered systems. The selection will be
• Finalising the project time schedule. both the customer and the supplier. The tests made between those tendered systems
are also confirming that both parties are in
• Defining the interfaces and delivery that fulfil the mandatory requirements of
agreement on the functions and facilities,
boundaries to other systems (primary the specification by taking into account the
that are included.
switch car, separate relays, remote quality of the supplier and the cost. In a more
control system) is important, especially The test results are approved and a report enhanced evaluation process, the economy
if those systems come from different signed by a representative of the customer. over the total system lifetime is calculated,
manufacturers than the substation Signing of the test reports does not absolve which includes added values as well as a
automation system. The new IEC 61850 the supplier from any of his responsibilities lifecycle cost and risk analysis. Both tangible
standard will probably help to solve during the guarantee period. and intangible aspects must be evaluated.
this present problem in substation The acceptance tests can be grouped into Tangible items can be quantified in financial
automation projects. three different categories: or technical performance terms. By contrast,
• Completion of single line diagram, intangible issues cannot be quantified.
• type test However, they might be used to support
including position of the different objects
(CTs, VTs, isolators,etc), which is the basis • factory acceptance test decision making or to prioritize between
for the engineering work. • site acceptance test different solutions.
• Acceptance of the main pictures at
station level such as single line diagram, Type test FAT SAT
event list, alarm list.
Technological conformity test x
• Acceptance of the lists of events and
Performance tests x x x
alarms (including their names) with the
indication of the particular signal to be Functional conformity tests x x

sent (station event list, remote, etc.) Commissioning tests x

• Approval of the cubicle layout. Table 1: Acceptance test matrix.

energize - December 2007 - Page 28

The costs and benefits are case dependent less an estimation with many uncertainties. Conclusion and recommendations
and thus it is not possible to provide any However, when we are comparing different
When preparing a specification for substation
numerical values for the weighting factors, solutions, absolute figures are not that
automation, it is very important to have a
but the basic steps of an evaluation process important.
proper structure that covers all requirements
can be described as follows.
Added values should at least be calculated of a customer in terms of functionality,
Fulfilment of requirements for the optional functions and new features performance, availability and efficient
offered. This should be straightforward if the project management. To be able to make
The first step is to check whether or not
tender states separate prices for these, but a proper evaluation of the different offers,
the tendered systems are fulfilling the
these functions are more often included the requirements in the specification should
requirements defined in tangible terms. In this
in the basic system of the supplier without be easy to measure and to compare. Thus a
phase it would be convenient to have already
any additional cost. In this case, a bonus simplified structure with clear, straightforward
clarified beforehand (in the specification),
could be added based on the financial requirements will help to provide an optimal
which of the requirements are mandatory
evaluation of the added functionality as link between the customer's needs and the
and which issues are negotiable.
compared to the evaluation results of more evaluation procedure.
Project-specific items conventional types of solutions.
There are different ways of considering
The second basic issue is the evaluation of Qualitative evaluation the new global standard IEC 61850 in the
project-specific items to see whether it is specification of substation automation. The
The fourth step is the qualitative evaluation
possible to carry out the project according to preferred way is to focus on the functionality
of those aspects for which it is difficult to
the preliminary plan. This includes the analysis and to define the station bus without
assign an economic value. One way of
of risks, critical time schedules, reliability defining further details on the protocol
avoiding qualitative evaluation is to convert
of the supplier as well as of the project implementation itself. When including
attributes to criteria. In many cases this in
plan for engineering, factort acceptance more details concerning IEC 61850 in
not very convenient and it is more practical
tests, erection, commissioning and site specifications, it is important that the basic
to use qualitative measures i.e. to weight
acceptance tests. features and limitations of the standard
the different performance aspects of the
Economy-related items systems by means of a scoring system. are clearly understood. There is also a risk
Weighting factors may be different from that too many details might jeopardize the
The third set of issues is economy related: efficiency of the project execution due to a
case to case, depending on the type,
price and commercial conditions including focus on the bits and bytes rather than on
location and importance of a substation.
delivery terms, terms of payment, warranty functional and related system issues.
If qualitative measuring is used, it is fair
conditions, etc. The various commercial
to predefine the selection criteria and The weighting of the requirements and the
conditions must be valued so as to equalize
weighting factors: Qualitative evaluation evaluation of the different offers should take
the tenders. Present worth analysis, levelled
can be used to support decision making, into account all aspects that are relevant for
costing, or some similar method of putting
especially if the systems compared have a project. The base is given in the customer's
present and future costs on a comparable
rather similar investment and/or life cycle specification, but apart from this, other
basis will have to be used.
costs. factors also need to be considered, like
The minimum requirement in cost comparison economic related items and qualitative
Overall value
is to calculate the torn! capital cost instead evaluation. It is also important that in the
of the pure quoted price. All costs of The final step is to find the highest overall
evaluation the substation automation system
design, equipment, software, installation, value taking into account both the
is considered as part of the utility's wider
testing, training, etc. for both the substation economical and qualitative evaluations.
operations. In the end, the highest overall
automation system supplier and the customer The quantitative (economical) and the
ranking of all items assessed and weighted
must be included. In some cases also the qualitative values must first be scaled with
during the evaluation process should be
investment cost of the communication a chosen proportion between the scales,
used for the comparison of all offers.
links outside the substation may have to be providing an opportunity to put emphasis
included. on either one of these aspects and then In addition to this executive summary, the full
perform a scalar or vectorial addition. report of Cigré working group B5.18 provides
In a more comprehensive calculation, the life
significantly more detailed information
cycle cost (LCC) including the investment cost, While performing the evaluation, either
and guidelines to support the writing of
added values, operation and maintenance economical or qualitative, it should be
specifications and the evaluation of offers
costs are determined. In this calculation, remembered that in order to achieve the
for subsation automations systems submitted
the expected life time of an substation overall benefits from the utility's point of
by bidders.
automation system, especially compared view, the cost of substation automation
to that of the primary equipment, is one systems and other related information Acknowledgement
important parameter. Also, the time period technology based systems, SCADA, etc.
This article was published in the
for which the cost should be calculated must might increase. Effective utilization of data
August 2007 issue of Electra, the members
be stated (this could be different from the also requires stronger use of condition based
journal of Cigré,, and is
expected life time). Lifecycle cost is in itself maintenance and asset management
republished with permission.
a good measure for the overall performance concepts. The main conclusion here is that
of a substation automation system, if all cost substation automation systems should not Contact Clive Burchell, Cigré,
components can be included. The problem be evaluated as independent units but as Tel 011 896-3661,
is, that the calculation of LCC is more or a part of the utility's other operations. v

energize - December 2007 - Page 29