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Overview about different Communication Protocols for PV-Hybrid Systems

6th European Conference PV-Hybrid and Mini-Grid

Jakob Wachtel M.Sc. Department PV Off-Grid Solutions and Battery System Technology Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE Chambry, April 26th 2012

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ISO-OSI Reference Model RS-485 / Modbus / SunSpec CAN / CANopen IEC-61850 Wireless Solutions Conclusions

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ISO-OSI Reference Model

Application Process 1 7. Application Layer 6. Presentation Layer 5. Session Layer 4. Transport Layer 3. Network Layer 2. Data Link Layer 1. Physical Layer Data Transmission
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Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data

Application Process 2 7. Application Layer 6. Presentation Layer 5. Session Layer 4. Transport Layer 3. Network Layer 2. Data Link Layer 1. Physical Layer

Master/Slave-Architecture for asynchronous serial connections (EIA/TIA-485A, -232-E, EIA-422) Client/Server-Architecture for interconnection of different networks via gateways All communication is initiated by Modbus master No intercommunication between slaves possible

Quelle: MODBUS Application Protocol Specification V1.1b

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Simple signal oriented protocol The meaning of the telegram is given by the data type, a function code and a numerical address. Wide spread Openly published Royalty-free

Quelle: MODBUS Application Protocol Specification V1.1b

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Modbus Protocol-Stack
Layer 7 application protocol

Quelle: MODBUS Application Protocol Specification V1.1b

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SunSpec Alliance
American initiative, also european members (Fronius, SMA, Kaco), founded in July 2009 Communication for PV Systems (on- and off-grid) Uses Modbus and defines several profiles Collaborates with ZigBee, IEC 61850, DNP3 (telecontrol) First specifications comprise Common models Inverter models Meter models Environmental models String combiner models

So far only monitoring is considered. For control there is a plan in place.

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Controller Area Network

Covers layers 1 and 2 of ISO-OSI reference model Developed by BOSCH in 1983 and quickly became the leading field bus protocol for the automobile industry Differential bus (2 wire twisted pair) known for its robustness Multimaster capable, many nodes may simultaneously access the bus Bus length proportional to bitrate One unique CAN-ID plus eight data bytes CAN-ID
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Bitrate [kbit/s] 10 20 50 125 250 500 1000

Bus length [m] 5000 2500 1000 500 250 100 25

b 1

b 2

b 3

b 4

B 5

b 6

b 7

b 8

Object oriented approach Application layer protocol that is defined in profiles DS 301 is the main profile defining basic communication services Other profiles describe optional CANopen services Device Profiles: Describe the functionality of one device CiA 401: Generic I/O Application Profiles CiA 437 Photovoltaic Systems CiA 454 Energy Management Systems

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CANopen Basic Services

Network management (MNT): One NMT Master controls all NMT Slaves Error control: Monitoring of nodes (heartbeat) Synchronisation: One SYNC-producer sends synchronisation telegrams Process data objects (PDO): Send process data Preconfigured through configuration and mapping parameters Enables the usage of pure CAN (all eight data bytes for process data) One Producer, any number of consumers Service data objects (SDO): Access to object dictionary Confirmed client / server principle Four bytes needed to address object dictionary entry

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CiA 454 Energy Management Systems

Application Profile for PV-hybrid Off-grid Systems
Describes the typical devices of a PV-hybrid off-grid energy supply system Tries to be as concrete as possible but as abstract as needed Provides standardised interface for these devices which are Energy storage (battery) Voltage converter (charge controller, inverter, ) Load Generator These descriptions / abstract specifications enable a superordinate energy management. Different operation modes increase system availability.

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Modes of Operation
Some systems do not need a sophisticated EMS. The EMS may have a failure. Some components must be operable even when no communication is foreseen. If there is a broken wire operation should still be possible to a minimum extent. Normal
EMS gathers data, schedules energetic interchange and controls components.
EMS available No EMS

Battery broadcasts SOC, components dicide locally whether to switch on or off
Communication ok Communication failure

Components measure voltage (or frequenzy) and dicide locally whether to switch on or off.
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Network Management with Plug and Play Ability

Node IDs are assigned via LSS fastscan service Node IDs are assigned consecutively by the network manager / energy management system (EMS) which always has NID 1. Device identification is realised by an object called supported virtual devices (6000h) which amongst others contains a bit field Virtual device function (VDF). According to the VDF, the EMS integrates the device into its control strategy.

Instance Offset

Instance Number

Voltage Converter




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Non-controllable loads E.g. consumer electronics must always be available when needed. Controllable loads E.g. water pumps may be switched on in times of excess power generation through stochastic generators. Influenceable loads E.g. the switching of a washing machine may be shifted in time. Variable in power E.g. a freezer may vary its temperature according to energy availability
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Power Generators
Stochastic Power generators that use renewable resources Controllable Backup Diesel generator Variable in power Both stochastic and controllable generators may be variable in their power production.

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IEC 61850 Background

network control station A IEC 60870-6

network control station B


Substation (e.g. distribution station)

Substation control computer

IEC 60870-5-104 or e.g. Profibus

Planned to be exchanged by IEC-61850

Switchboard with controller

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Transformer controller

Background IEC 61850

Started in 1995 as a standardisation project Originally developed for the substation internal communication IEC 60870 signal oriented: every telegram corresponds to one data point (e.g. one measurement value or message), for interoperability profiles are needed Replacement of IEC 60870 Advantages of IEC 61850: Object oriented data model Devices are able to discribe themselves: Structure of the data model can be communicated via the protocol In China and USA already often in use (substations) Extension for monitoring / control of : Wind turbines (IEC 61400-25) Hydroelectric power plants (IEC 61850-7-410) Distributed energy resources (IEC 61850-7-420) (including PV)
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IEC 61850 Services

Maintenance firm / network operator / web portal
IEC 61850 Client

Energy Gateway Mapping MMS or SOAP

Services defined in IEC 61850
Server connections Retrieval of information about the data model Setting and reading of measurement, status and control values Grouping of data for faster access Reporting and configuration of reports Logging and configuration von logs File transmission Time synchronisation

IEC 61850 Server PV Model

Fieldbus Driver

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Data Models for Decentralised Energy Resources

Data models for DER can be assembled from the LN samples from IEC 61850-7-4: General LNs for current and voltage measurement / control devices, etc. IEC 61400-25: Specific LNs for wind turbines IEC 61850-7-410: Specific LNs for hydropower plants IEC 61850-7-420: Specific LNs and distributed generation technology (photovoltaic, CHP, emergency generators, generators, power converters, thermal storage, battery storage, additional measuring devices) High degrees of freedom to model a specific system in detail Abstract nodes that allow a handling regardless of the specific technology used Differently detailed data models for different applications (monitoring, integration into virtual power plants, etc) in one device Until now, a "plug and play" integration is not provided in the norm. Rather, an integration of the control technology via comfortable engineering tools was foreseen.

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IEC 61850 Model Hierarchy

1 1-n

Logical Device
Freely selectable
1 2-n

Logical Node
61850-7-4, 61850-7-420

1 0-n

Data Object


1 0-n

Data Attribute


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IEC 61850 Review

Highly flexible Can be mapped to different protocols All pervasive, everyone talks about it High complexity, awkwardly defined protocol Partly not unambiguous and faulty Too many degrees of freedom for the creation of models (avoids interoperability between different manufacturers devices). The creation of profiles for specific plant types and parties is useful and necessary for manufacturer comprehensive compatibility.

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Wireless Solutions
Many proprietary solutions exist that cover all protocol layers (Z-Wave, Enocean) IEEE 802.15.4 is a promising international standard Properties are low ranges, low energy consumption, small data rate, low cost Slow communication Not deterministic, not hard real-time capable Cannot replace a fieldbus protocol Application Layer Network Layer MAC Layer Physical Layer
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E.g. ZigBee Smart Energy Profile, Smart Energy Profile 2.0 E.g. ZigBee, 6LoWPAN, WirelessHART

IEEE 802.15.4

Wireless Solutions
IEEE 802.15.4
Full Function Device (FFD) can route packets but does not work with battery supply solely Reduced Function Device (RFD) can only communicate with one FFD, sleeps most of the time, very little energy consumption



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Alliance founded in 2002 Interfaces IEEE 802.15.4 Defines profiles for data exchange for specific applications, one is the Smart Energy Profile However, many ZigBee products use proprietary profiles that are not proven by the ZigBee alliance Promising development: Smart Energy Profile 2.0 (advocated by NIST) can also interface other protocols (e.g. TCP/IP) Shows its strengths in dense meshed networks

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Use standards! Either use CAN or RS-485 and define a proprietary protocol on top or use CANopen or Sunspec for application layer protocols. In the field either Sunspec or CANopen seem to be the most feasible solutions. For a coherent and robust communication infrastructure use CANopen. For quick starts and smaller systems Modbus / Sunspec might be the right choice due to its simplicity. IEC 61850 is not mature but in the future seems to prevail and become the number one standard for on-grid systems, substation internal and external communication. Wireless communication should only be used for slow communication without high demand in reliability.
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Thank You for Your Attention!

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Jakob Wachtel, M.Sc. www.ise.fraunhofer.de Jakob.wachtel@ise.fraunhofer.de +49(0)761-4588-5425
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