Time aware high availability networking for smart grids

Develop an integrated protection and control solution for power systems, that satisfies future requirements for precise, highly available and secure communication and unifies these with control technology on a single device.

Electric power systems are faced with a radical expansion of digital technologies. In a modern power system, networking technology most often builds a critical edge that directly influences the reliability of generation, transmission and distribution. Hence, security of supply strongly depends on security, robust synchronization means and availability of communication technologies. As a manufacturer of control and protection equipment for power systems, Sprecher Automation’s product portfolio has been extended with significant networking technologies in recent years. This, on the one hand, includes upcoming new protocol standards on application layer (such as IEC 61850 and others), but to a large degree also addresses new underlying communication technologies such as redundancy protocols, VLAN abilities, security mechanisms, and many others. While the heterogeneity of these technologies rapidly grows, it is increasingly difficult for manufacturers to satisfy these requirements with proper products. Hence, it is a major challenge to provide components that are able to flexibly offer communication technologies for a wide range of applications in power system control at a reasonable price. While flexibility is one challenge, the growing data traffic in power systems due to the increasing amount of networked devices in smart grids is an additional burden that manufacturers will have to tackle in the near future. Where Gigabit-Ethernet solutions are already state-of-the-art in general communication technology, in industrial environments this technology is still not fully established. The problem – especially in substation automation – is the general necessity that embedded computers have to get along without active cooling (this strong constraint exists due to hardware requirements because of the harsh environmental conditions when control computers are applied. While high traffic rates are related to computing power, and this in turn induces heat emission problems in embedded systems, solutions need to be found to technologically meet this challenge to create efficient processing solutions able to be applied to industrial environments. Where Gigabit-Ethernet in industrial appliances already exists for networking-only devices such as switches or routers, in complex combined control computers that unify functionality from real-time control, signal processing, protection algorithms up to communication abilities, this is a fundamental technological challenge. In the end, superordinate requirements are to enable highly secure, synchronized as well as highly available communications, which is a strong requirement for reliable power system operation. Hence, future networking solutions have to provide strong security mechanisms for communication networks and also they have to offer technologies for increasing communication reliability with integrated advanced synchronization features. While these requirements are strongly interconnected, the challenge is to additionally integrate them into efficient, interoperable,flexible and secure control and communication technology solutions. SoC-e is one of the worldwide leading suppliers of Ethernet communication solutions based on FPGA technology. SoC-e is pioneer in developing a portfolio of IP cores that implement the leading-edge networking and synchronization technologies for critical system. However, the new generation of computing platforms for SAS, like Sprecher´s one, demands a new generation of IPs that integrate high availability networking, synchronization and cybersecurity. SoC-e faces this challenge taking into account the flexilibity and interoperabiliy required by this market in order to complete its portfolio of products for these technologies. Finally, this project aims at developing an innovative computing platform that enables communication abilities for control computers that: • Are flexible enough to be applied to manifold practical scenarios in order to meet their specific communication requirements • Are efficient in means of computing power and heat emissions in order to be unified with control computer hardware within a single component • Provide redundancy protocols in order to increase communication availability and so the total system availability • Integrate sub-microsecond synchronization capabilities combined with redundancy protocols in a single electronic device • Satisfy the increasingly strong security requirements in smart grids at different layers: device, embedded application, networking and application Benefits at the end of this project will be clear. While Spreacher would have HW and SW prototypes that can be transferred to a singular product ready to be positioned on the market Soc-e would get a new generation of IPcores prepared to be distributed to different markets as a solution which provides availability, synchronization and cybersecurity.
Project ID: 
11 227
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
560 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Embedded Systems and Real Time Systems
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.