EU helping fund world’s first sulfur hexafluoride-free 420-kV circuit-breaker

For illustration purposes only, this is an example of a 420kW SF6-insulated substation.

GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business said today that it been awarded à¢â€š¬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 COà¢â€šâ€š equivalent value, said GE. Upon completion in 2022, the gcircuit-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 COà¢â€šâ€š if leaked and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years.

“Our g3 technology is a game-changing alternative to SFfor 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.

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