Capula collaborates on academic digital substation research project

Capula is collaborating on a research project with Manchester University to analyse digital substation architecture design and reliability on an IEC618501 multi-vendor test platform. The Network Innovation Allowance2 funded project is being supported by five partners, including Capula an Imtech company, as well as being backed by international engineering knowledge-sharing association, Cigre3. The findings of the study will influence real-world scenarios and help shape the strategic direction of the nation’s electrical network.

The study aims to investigate whether solutions from different suppliers can work correctly, safely and reliably when configured to a common specification and to demonstrate IEC61850 technologies. The project involves analysing the interoperability of the equipment between substation bays supplied by different suppliers and between individual bays and a master unit.

Capula was involved in integrating the isolated equipment contained within four substation bays donated from leading equipment manufacturers, into one common substation control system.

“Capula’s vendor-agnostic approach means that integrating all the components poses no obstacle to our highly skilled team, despite the presence of numerous communications protocols and the varied conditions that exist within differing manufacturer’s products,” commented Martin Payne, Transmission and Distribution Business Manager at Capula.

The latest IEC61850 communications protocols are an essential element in this innovative study and these standards are incorporated in Capula’s IMPERIUM substation control system. The IEC61850 standard brings with it considerable benefits such as its ability to cope with technology migrations, the need for interoperability between devices from different suppliers, and simplified engineering and maintenance.

With the feasibility of the concept successfully proven in the lab facilities at the University, the next phase of the project will aim to prove its applicability on the electricity transmission system. Initially, it will be tested offline a recently redundant substation, then afterwards at a live substation in South Wales where Capula recently upgraded the substation control system (SCS) as part of its involvement in National Grid’s SCS upgrade framework.

“We are pleased to be able to collaborate on this leading academic study and be involved in demonstrating the viability of a future digital substation to advance electrical grid efficiency at this exciting time in the evolution of the substation model”, commented Mark Hardy, Managing Director at Capula.

1 IEC61850 is an international standard that defines communication in and between electrical substation automation systems.

2 Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) is an Ofgem incentive for funding smaller innovation projects that can deliver benefits to customers.

3 Cigre is an international non-profit association for promoting collaboration with experts from all around the world by sharing knowledge and joining forces to improve electric power systems of today and tomorrow.

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