GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business said today that it been awarded €2.2 million through the European Commission’s LIFE climate action program to help fund the development of a sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)-free, 420 kiloVolt (kV) 63 kilo Amps (kA) gas-insulated substation (GIS) circuit-breaker.
The new circuit-breaker will rely on GE’s “Green Gas for Grid”—or “g3” (pronounced “g- cubed”)—technology, resulting in the same high performance and compact size as a traditional SF6-insulated circuit-breaker, but with a gas mass having more than a 99% reduced CO₂ equivalent value, said GE. Upon completion in 2022, the g3 circuit-breaker is expected to be the first SF6-free 420 kV gas-insulated substation circuit-breaker in the world.
A circuit-breaker is protective equipment used to cut power in case of a problem on the grid. High-voltage 420-kV circuit-breakers are found at electrical substations on long-distance transmission networks.
Due to its strong insulating and arc-quenching properties, SF6 is widely used in substation equipment with the transmission industry accounting for approximately 80% of the world’s usage. Identified as the world’s most potent greenhouse gas by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, SF6 is estimated to contribute 23,500 times more emissions than CO₂ if leaked and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years.
“Our g3 technology is a game-changing alternative to SF6 for high-voltage equipment and is part of GE’s broader efforts to help the electric transmission and distribution industry reduce its greenhouse gas emissions,” said Vera Silva, Chief Technology Officer at GE’s Grid Solutions.
“Because 420 kV is the highest voltage level used in most European countries, a proven g3–insulated 420 kV circuit-breaker will demonstrate that g3 technology can be applied to other high-voltage levels, as well as all other gas-insulated substation components, such as disconnectors, earthing switches, voltage transformers,” said Yannick Kieffel, Grid Solutions’ Materials and Eco Design Team Leader and Project Leader for the EU-funded g3 project.
“This project is a great fit for our recent round of LIFE financial awards due to its potential impact on Europe’s transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future,” said Angelo Salsi, LIFE Programme Head of Unit at the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
GE’s Vera Silva was a panelist during the 2019 DISTRIBUTECH International Power Women’s Breakfast. Watch our interview with her below.