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Virtualised protection and control solution

06 March 2023

ABB is launching what is reported to be the first virtualised protection and control solution – Smart Substation Control and Protection SSC600 SW. The virtualised product enables customers to use the hardware of their choice and gain access to the same proven protection and control functionality as with ABB’s turnkey solution.

SSC600 SW is the virtualised version of the Smart Substation Control and Protection SS600 device. In 2018, ABB introduced this revolutionary approach to protection and control (P&C) in distribution networks, where all the P&C functionality is centralised into one single device. One SSC600 device can handle the tasks of 30 protection relays. Centralising this functionality in the substation reduces network complexity and supports optimal, lifelong asset management and up to 15 percent savings in substation life cycle costs.

Why virtualisation?

There are many reasons why virtualisation is increasingly becoming standard practice for IT architecture for businesses around the world. With virtualisation, one server can become many virtual machines and replace the traditional ‘one computer, one application’ model. As users can merge more functionalities onto fewer physical devices, they are able to reduce the amount of space and administration needed. In other words, virtualisation allows operators to get the most out of their hardware, while also cutting costs and achieving greater efficiency.

ABB introduces SSC600 SW

Customers can now choose SSC600 SW and are no longer tied to specific hardware allowing them to optimise their IT infrastructure. With many systems accommodated on one platform, they can reduce the number and type of devices and hardware in substations. This greatly simplifies performing maintenance activities. The inherent separation of functionality from hardware (virtualisation) allows integrated, system-wide upgrades and additional functionality, without introducing the need for new hardware. As an example: an SSC600 device can protect 30 bays, whereas with a virtualised approach, customers can install multiple SSC600 SW instances on a single computer for even bigger systems.

Further, with virtualised functionality, a substation owner can replace different kinds of old equipment with the same type of new equipment. This substantially reduces the amount of knowledge required to maintain the substation because of the smaller amount of hardware variants.

To create a robust power system protection and control solution that provides the flexibility and enhanced resiliency necessary to face increasingly complex grids, SSC600 SW supports Linux KVM and the VMware Edge Compute Stack platform featuring ESXi 7.x or later as virtualisation environments and runs on Intel® Xeon® Gold processors to ensure real-time performance.

“The energy landscape is undergoing rapid and fundamental changes triggered by shifts in regulations to accelerate the green transition as well as immense advancements in technology,” said Sami Raitakoski, global product group manager at ABB. “Our virtualised offering comes at a vital time. The needs and benefits of going virtual are clear, and in response, we launch the SSC600 SW to meet market needs for greater flexibility and scalability.”

Further enhancements to SSC600 with feature pack 4

Since the initial launch of SSC600, ABB has regularly introduced new features and functionality to meet the increasing demands for more detailed information on distribution network behavior and performance. With the launch of SSC600 SW, ABB also released a new feature pack, FP 4, in which several enhancements and additions become available. Highlights include a re-developed user interface, which greatly improves visualisation, helping you to perform the right actions with ease. To ensure robustness, the core tools behind the user interface have been replaced with new technology.

In response to customer feedback, the disturbance recorder function has been further enhanced and can now support longer recording times and offers more storage space for the recordings. And new functions have been added, including fuse failure supervision for increased robustness. This function is used to block the voltage measuring functions when a failure occurs in the secondary circuits between the voltage transformer and protection relay. Another addition is protection for shunt capacitor banks.   

Due to their critical role in the power system, protection devices must be acceptance-tested prior to being taken into service and periodically thereafter to ensure reliable performance. To further facilitate testing during all phases of the protection system’s lifecycle, FP 4 also introduces support for simulation as defined in the IEC 61850 standard. By using simulation in combination with modern testing tools, it is possible to receive generated measurements, without interfering with the normal process. This makes new flexible solutions for periodical testing of the protection functionality possible.

Feature pack upgrades and all the included functionalities are available for both SSC600 and SSC600 SW.