Blame me for my ignorance. Maybe I am
naïve; after all, I do not understand the power industry very well.
When I had a chance to review in detail NIST's second report on
interoperability standards for smart grid, I noticed a few things.
I looked at table 4.1 (pp. 70–105)
and table 4.2 (pp. 107–138) in the report. Table 4.1 lists the
technologies that have been deemed standards for smart grid, while
table 4.2 lists the technologies that have some potential but have
not yet been deemed standards.
Unless I am mistaken, only real ICT
technologies (the technologies developed and used in the ICT field)
seem to be IP. The IEEE 802 family is still in table 4.2, as it was
in the first edition of the report. That family includes technologies
used everywhere, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Several web services
technologies from OASIS, like SOAP, XAD, XML, and WDSL, and cellular
standards like 3GPP and 3GGP2 are also used everywhere. I think (and
I hope) that these commonly used ICT technologies will make table 4.1
A lot has been said about IP taking
over the methods of communications for smart grid. In reality, in
non-ICT fields, IP is used mostly to carry data over a long distance.
Building management systems (BMS) still use BACnet, LonWorks, and
other protocols locally. Both BACnet and LonWorks made the table 4.1
list from version 1 of the interoperability report.
The way it works is that within each
building the preferred communications protocols are BACnet and/or
LonWorks. When the BMS for a building needs to interact with another
BMS or energy management system (EMS) over some distance, its data
are carried over IP. In other words, those BMS have a web service
interface so that they can interact with a web server at their
headquarters. Yes, it is the application of ICT technologies. But its
use appears to be pretty much limited to long-distance
Another example is the SCADA
communications protocols. RTU or PLC, which interact with sensors and
other devices, communicate with the SCADA master via something like
Modbus RTU, RP570, Profibus, or Conitel. And the communications are
specified by standards like IEEE DNP3, IEC 60870-5, and IEC 61850.
And those standards have made the table 4.1 list. I understand here
again that IP may be used to carry data specified with those protocol
standards over a long distance. Even though IEC 61131-3, which is a
standard set of programming languages for PLC in the SCADA system,
did not make either table 4.1 or table 4.2, programming languages
like C or C++, which are often used for programming embedded systems,
and other ICT programming languages are mentioned in either table.
The interoperability report discusses
As I look closely at it, it appears that the ICT technologies are
probably used in typical office or enterprise environments that may
not touch the power grid structure directly, such as generation,
transmission, and distribution. This is why the ICT technologies show
up more at operations and consumer premises where traditional ICT
technologies are used. Between power and ICT technologies, there are
IP and web services to bridge them.
This does not mean that power
technologies do not use computer or communications technologies.
Computer and communications technologies are often associated with
ICT technologies, but they are not exclusively owned by ICT. Other
industries, including power and building management, can put them to
their own use. The term IT is a loaded one that includes both the IT
department and the IT technologies. The IT technologies here refer to
the technologies defined, developed, and used mostly by IT people.
But as mentioned, there are other IT technologies that are defined,
developed, and used by other industries, such as power and building
management, whose main technologies have been deemed standards in the
I think the IEEE 802 family and the
OASIS web services technologies, along with cellular standards like
3GGP and 3GGP2 and network management standards like SNMP, will be
listed in table 4.1 eventually. Am I wrong in this understanding?