ABB commissions first IEC 61850 substation automation system in Australia

2008-10-21 - ABB Australia successfully commissioned the very first standard IEC61850 substation automation (SA) system in Australia on 15 June 2008. The system formed part of the $10-million turnkey construction of the Juna Downs 220kV substation, and is part of Rio Tinto Pilbara Iron’s extensive power upgrade in the Pilbara region of WA.

When evaluating the options for this project, Rio Tinto was looking for a solution suitable to the conditions of the Pilbara region. The remoteness and harsh environment, coupled with the fact that the region is victim to regular cyclones, made it essential for any solution to provide a robust and reliable protection system and substation design. This would not only protect the investment but also minimise power outages which can cost Rio Tinto millions in lost production.

The location of the site also required a system which would allow remote control and access to as many diagnostic features as possible, with the ultimate goal being to enable control of the system on-site from Perth, 1000km away.

The solution to meet all of these challenges led to the adoption of the new IEC61850 Substation Automation Standard. This new standard would not only answer all of Rio Tinto’s needs but also offer a multitude of other advantages:

  • Simple and lean system architecture
  • Better flow of data from devices to control system
  • One single file to describe the entire substation automation system architecture and application
  • Better connectivity and interoperability between devices and systems from different vendors
  • Standardised, controlled way to define extensions to the system
  • Future-proof applications
    - Application configuration withstands changes to communications systems
  • Future cost savings on substation automation system deliveries
    - Efficient device integration and system level engineering
    - Simpler wiring, with a greater reduction in the cable needed (when using the process bus)
    - Cost effective system extension
    - Replacement or upgrade of equipment doesn’t affect the application, saving a lot of engineering hours
  • Support for new type of applications
    - Standardised high performance communication between bays
    - High performance process bus to connect intelligent sensors reducing system costs

Once Rio Tinto was comfortable that an IEC 61850 SA system would deliver on all their expectations, ABB and Rio Tinto embarked on designing the first IEC61850 SA system for Australia.

The solution provided by ABB Australia:
Rio Tinto engineer on Juna Downs Control System
  • A distributed Ethernet ring architecture was adopted for availability purposes.
  • ABB’s IED670 (IED = intelligent electronic device) were used for the protection, control and monitoring functions (more information for better preventive maintenance).
  • ABB’s remote terminal unit RTU650, which had been used in previous substation installations supplied by ABB to Rio Tinto, was adopted as the standard IEC61850 gateway. This RTU560 will communicate with the network control centre (NCC) using the DNP3.0 protocol.
  • The local human-machine-interface (HMI) is done with ABB’s MicroSCADA 9.2 control system connected directly to the IEC61850-8-1 bus.
  • The local substation control system (SCS) can be accessed remotely using the terminal service feature of the system. It enables the operator to:
    - Remotely interrogate individual IED’s
    - Collect recordable disturbance files (without the need for a separate communication bus to the IED’s – one of the advantages of IEC61850)
    - Control the station in the event of a loss of communication via the gateway
    - Access accurately time stamped event and alarm lists (which were not available with the existing network control system)
  • The latest in ABB’s Power Line Carrier range, the ETL600, was deployed for the teleprotection signalling and enables broadband data communication to the SCADA control system.
The commissioning team celebrates the project success

The project was delivered on time and budget despite the project kick-start date being delayed due to the evaluation process involved in deciding on the implementation of an IEC61850 SA system. In addition, the SA system being the first of its kind to be commissioned in Australia was a major achievement made possible in part, by the superb technical expertise available to the Australian design team from ABB’s global technology centres in both Switzerland and India.

ABB’s centre of excellence in Baden, Switzerland, monitored the project closely via weekly steering committee meetings, offering weekly trouble shooting directly from the research and development team with fast turnaround and response times. The steering committee can follow up on all systems integration world wide. This management strategy helps mitigate the risk in implementing a new standard.

The successful completion of this project also holds proof to the fact that the new IEC61850 standard does enable faster delivery of SA systems.

ABB has been involved with the IEC61850 standard from the beginning, with involvement in the actual defining of the standard ten years ago. Since its inception, ABB has successfully commissioned more than 300 SA systems worldwide and has also introduced a complete range of relays based on the standard.

Following the successful commissioning of the Juna Downs substation, all further ABB substation constructions related to Rio Tinto’s Pilbara power upgrade project will follow suite using IEC61850 substation automation systems. ABB and Rio Tinto recently signed a preferred supplier framework agreement for electrification works related to this project, under which multiple projects have already been awarded to ABB. The Juna Downs project was amongst the first, awarded in March 2007.

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