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Virtualization of a sensor node to enable the simulation of IEC 61850-based sampled value messages
The IEC 61850 standard, “Communication networks and systems in substations” was promulgated to accommodate the need for a common communication platform within substations for devices from different vendors. The IEC 61850 standard proposes a substation automation architecture that is Ethernet-based, with a “station-bus” for protection devices within the substation and a “process bus” where raw data from the voltage and current transformers are published onto the data network using a device known as a Merging Unit. To date, most of the standardization efforts were focused at the station bus level where event-triggered messages are exchanged between the substation automation devices, commonly referred to as Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs). These messages are known as Generic Object Oriented Substation Event messages. Equipment from vendors to accommodate the “process bus” paradigm, however is still limited at present. The Centre for Substation Automation and Energy Management Systems was established within the Electrical Engineering Department at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology with one of its objectives being the development of equipment either for simulation or real-time purposes in compliance with the IEC 61850 standard. In order to fulfil this long-term objective of the Centre, an in-depth understanding of the IEC 61850 standard is required. This document details the efforts at acquiring the requisite knowledge base in support of the educational objectives of the Centre and the research project implements a simulation of a merging unit which is compliant with the functional behavior as stipulated by the standard. This limited functional implementation (i.e. non-real-time) of the merging unit, is achieved through the development of a virtualized data acquisition node capable of synthetic generation of waveforms, encoding of the data and publishing the data in a format compliant with the IEC 61850-9-2 sampled value message structure. This functional behavior of the virtual sensor node which was implemented has been validated against the behavior of a commercial device and the sampled value message structure is validated against the standard. The temporal behavior of the proposed device is commented upon. This research project forms the basis for future real-time implementation of a merging unit.