NOJA Power enhances Automatic Circuit Recloser firmware with IEC 61850 protocols, auto-synchronisation and a host of configuration and performance improvements

The industry’s most comprehensive Automatic Circuit Recloser firmware gains major upgrades to meet the most demanding smart grid applications, including synchronisation to simplify reliable connection of renewable energy sources.

Press Release

July 2016
NOJA Power Automatic Circuit Recloser and firmware with IEC 61850 protocols,auto-synchronisation, configuration and performance improvements.

NOJA Power Automatic Circuit Recloser and firmware with IEC 61850 protocols,auto-synchronisation, configuration and performance improvements.

Brisbane, Qld, Australia – July 19, 2016 – Electrical switchgear engineers NOJA Power today announces the release of Relay Firmware 1.15, the latest version of its firmware platform for OSM series Automatic Circuit Reclosers (ACR or “auto-recloser”). With the release of Firmware 1.15, NOJA Power has included major new functionality to further enhance its OSM series ACR’s suitability as fundamental elements of smart grids—advanced, computerised electricity distribution networks—including IEC 61850 communication protocols, synchronisation to simplify connection of renewable energy distributed generation (REDG), greater configuration flexibility and enhanced protection element performance.

Chief among the new functionality of Firmware 1.15 is the implementation of Manufacturing Message Specification (MMS) and Generic Object Oriented Substation Events (GOOSE) protocols which form part of IEC 61850, a family of international standards for the electricity distribution industry. (See “About IEC 61850” below.) MMS enables the OSM Series RC control and communication cubicle to communicate with and accept control from IEC 61850 human machine interface (HMI) clients such as supervisory controls and data acquisition (SCADA) equipment.     

GOOSE messaging is used for high-speed sharing of process coordination and automation functions across Ethernet networks linking intelligent electronic devices (IEDs), regardless of the equipment’s manufacturer. (NOJA Power’s RC control and communications cubicle has an Ethernet interface fitted as standard.) Such messaging facilitates, for example, protection schemes requiring short transfer times. In addition, GOOSE messaging compensates for network variability while protecting data integrity and can be transported over networks for communication with IEDs beyond a substation.

Another key enhancement of Firmware 1.15 is synchronism checking (ANSI 25 device) and auto-synchronisation (ANSI 25A device). Synchronism checking ensures that the OSM series ACR only closes after confirming power quality on both sides of an open switch by checking the voltage difference is within tightly predefined limits of magnitude, phase angle and frequency. Auto-synchronisation ensures that the ACR only closes when there is zero phase angle difference between the voltages on either side of the switch. 

Synchronism checking and auto-synchronisation are in demand by utilities as they increase the amount of REDG connected to electricity grids. Firmware 1.15’s synchronism checking and auto-synchronisation features simplify the connection of REDG by ensuring that the source’s output is precisely matched to the rest of the distribution grid before connection. Synchronisation prevents poorly-matched REDG from causing power quality problems such as voltage sags and swells which can result in poor power quality potentially damaging utility assets.

Firmware 1.15 also includes a key configuration improvement which allows a utility technician to set the power flow direction across the ACR. Previously this was configured in the factory (RST to ABC) but can now be reversed in the field (ABC to RST), providing more flexibility in the installation and operation of the ACR.

Furthermore, NOJA Power has modified the Neutral Displacement Overvoltage (OV3) protection element in the firmware to enable utilities to customise configuration to ensure compatibility with distribution grid equipment such as Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL). Other improvements include enhanced resolution and accuracy of the Sensitive Earth Fault (SEF) protection element for better compatibility with Ground Fault Neutralisers (GFN) and other earth fault reduction techniques.

Firmware 1.15 also introduces a common app interface across all of NOJA Power’s single-phase, three-phase and single triple OSM series ACRs.

NOJA Power’s Control and Management Software (CMS) has received an upgrade (to version 3.1.0) to facilitate seamless configuration of Firmware 1.15’s features. CMS is a configuration tool used with NOJA Power’s OSM range of ACRs and RC cubicles.

“NOJA Power regularly releases new version of its OSM series ACR Relay firmware, but this is the most significant upgrade for several years,” says Neil O’Sullivan, NOJA Power’s Managing Director. “The company’s auto-reclosers have proven themselves as fundamental elements of smart grids across the world which has the added benefit of enabling us to work very closely with progressive global utilities. Many of the major requests made by these companies over the last few years—such as IEC 61850 protocol support and synchronisation to ease connection of renewable energy sources—have been incorporated into this version of the firmware. The result is an auto-recloser that is an even better fit for the commissioning and operational demands of smart grids.”

NOJA Power’s OSM series ACRs provide a comprehensive suite of automation features. The units perform voltage measurement on all bushings, current measurement on all phases, bidirectional protection and extensive power quality and data logging capability. The OSM series has been fully type-tested by independent laboratory KEMA in the Netherlands to ensure long life and reliability under the harshest environmental conditions. Since their introduction, the OSM series ACRs have been installed by utilities in over 84 countries around the world. (See “About the NOJA Power OSM series” below.)

About IEC 61850

IEC 61850 is a family of international standards that specify the use of a set of communication protocols for the integration of all protection, control, measurement and monitoring functions in a modern electricity network. IEC 61850 is being developed and maintained under the auspices of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and is part of IEC’s Technical Committee 57’s architecture for electrical power systems. IEC, electrical equipment manufacturers and electrical utilities developed the standard in a collaborative effort dating back to work begun by the North American Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in 1988.

IEC 61850 builds on earlier protocols including Manufacturing Message Specification (MMS) and Generic Object-Oriented System Event (GOOSE). MMS provides the vertical supervisory and control functions that allow devices to record data and then report that data to other equipment while GOOSE is a horizontal process coordination function used for high-speed sharing of information. GOOSE makes provision for the indeterminacy of Ethernet networking and protects the integrity of data.

The majority of modern electricity distribution and transmission infrastructure is operated using one of a small number of standard protocols. In general, these lack the abstract data models that allow IEC 61850 to preserve the original meaning of the information. IEC 61850’s retention of original meaning is important for allowing automated equipment to receive, comprehend, categorise and, critically, act on the information.

The standard is now being extended beyond the original scope of substation automation into the domains of managing wide-area electrical transmission and distribution systems and the control of distributed energy resources, hydro power plants and wind farms. In time it is expected to cover communication for control and monitoring of all aspects of the electrical power system. This extension of IEC 61850 promises to vastly increase communication between, and coordination of, electrical transmission and distribution infrastructure – a vital requirement for the implementation of a smart grid.