Tackling modernization & cybersecurityHydro-Québec had to replace decades-old systems with modern digital technology, complemented by cybersecurity tools. The pilot project delivered on the needed solutions, while a powerful new partnership model emerged for how to take on big challenges.
Siemens innovation is powering Hydro-Québec to a brighter future, with automated control systems and advanced cybersecurity technology
After relying on electromagnetic technologies installed in the 1980s, Hydro-Québec recognized the time had come to modernize its protection and control systems with digital technology. Adhering to the gold standard of electrical substation automation – IEC 61850 – the goal was to enable a range of new capabilities, most importantly end-to-end remote monitoring and maintenance. At the same time, cybersecurity needed to be addressed, given the recent vulnerability of grids around the world.
The utility approached the market with a unique request – proposals for how the new substation could be created using market-based solutions, yet still done by working closely with Hydro-Québec’s own experts.
Siemens put forward a bid that met the requirements – excellent technology, great people to provide support, and the ability to deliver it all at a competitive price and within a short timeframe.
Agility, flexibility and innovative thinking to meet challenges were hallmarks of the project. For example, to ensure peace of mind for Hydro-Québec on quality control, Siemens built a replica of the solution and installed it at its protection and control laboratories.
There it was tested with a PAC system simulator, in an IT and cybersecurity environment, before being deployed. Also for cybersecurity, Siemens leveraged its first-in-the-world IEC 62443 certification to deliver sophisticated tools.
Now that the station is fully operational, and a model for future substation modernization has been established, the people of Quebec can look forward to benefits like enhanced reliability.
The relationship we had with Siemens was great, from the bid through commissioning, and even after that.Michel Lavallee, Hydro-Québec
Hydro-Québec didn’t just want new technology. They wanted a partner to help execute projects faster and more effectively – moving away from vendors providing boxes to true collaboration to devise and deploy end-to-end solutions.
Siemens and Hydro-Québec people - spanning operations, information technology, telecommunications and cybersecurity - worked well together as one cohesive unit in order to fully commission the substation in about a year.
That's almost half the time the utility normally needed for similar projects, even if it was the first 61850 converged project, reuniting OT/IT/Telecom/Cyber security technologies.
The work done by Siemens in this pilot project reflected a “can do” spirit of true teamwork, whether it was experts working with Hydro-Québec colleagues on bid documentation, contracts, engineering or procurement for all the automation and cybersecurity technology, or in relationships with subcontractors who worked on constructing the building itself.
With decades-old protection and control systems replaced by the latest digital automation solutions that adhere to the IEC 61850 standard, Hydro-Québec’s decentralized assets can now be remotely monitored and managed. This drives major efficiency improvements, reduces employee health and safety risks, and reduces the frequency that employees have to drive to remote stations. With cybersecurity among the technologies integrated into the package, network reliability is prioritized as a key part of the transition to a digitalized future.
In the end, Siemens delivered a pre-engineered, prefabricated substation – including all the protection and control panels, wiring, and HMI screens – manufactured to all of Hydro-Québec’s specific requirements. All the programming for the automation was configured – with a hardened cybersecure architecture adhering to the IEC 62443 standard layered on top – to provide a complete end-to-end solution. And it was all delivered in turnkey fashion, from planning and building to testing and commissioning.
With everything functioning smoothly, a foundation is now in place that’s designed to last for decades.