GE's Development of the World's First SF6-free 420 kV Circuit-Breaker Is Speeded Up Thanks to European Union Funding

SF6 Circuit Breaker | Source: Power Transformer News

The construction of a 420 kV, 63 kA, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)-free gas-insulated substation (GIS) circuit-breaker has been granted €2.2 million by the European Commission's LIFE climate action initiative to GE Renewable Energy's Grid Solutions company. 

The new circuit-breaker will rely on GE's innovative "Green Gas for Grid" technology, also known as "g3" (pronounced "g-cubed"), to achieve the same high performance and compact size as a conventional SF6-insulated circuit-breaker while using a gas mass with a CO2 equivalent value that has been reduced by more than 99%. The g3 circuit-breaker is anticipated to be the first 420 kV gas-insulated substation circuit-breaker free of SF6 when it is finished in 2022.

SF6- Free Video: Source: GE Grid Solutions

In the event of a grid issue, a circuit-breaker is protective equipment that is used to turn off the electricity. On long-distance transmission networks, electrical substations have 420-kV high-voltage circuit breakers.

SF6 is used extensively in substation equipment because of its powerful insulating and arc-quenching qualities, with the transmission sector accounting for around 80% of global utilization. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol named SF6 as the world's most powerful greenhouse gas. If it leaks, it is thought to emit 23,500 times more emissions than CO2 and may linger in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years.

Vera Silva, Chief Technology Officer at GE's Grid Solutions, said that "our g3 technology offers a game-changing alternative to SF6 for high-voltage equipment and is part of GE's larger efforts to assist the electric transmission and distribution sector cut its greenhouse gas emissions."

According to Yannick Kieffel, Grid Solutions' Materials and Eco Design Team Leader and Project Leader for the EU-funded g3 project, "420 kV is the highest voltage level used in most European countries, so 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, and voltage transformers.

Also Read: What are the Important Characteristics of SF6 Circuit Breakers?

GE now provides the following g3 products: instrument transformers up to 245 kV, gas-insulated lines up to 420 kV, live tank circuit-breakers, and gas-insulated substations up to 145 kV.

Due to its potential influence on Europe's transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future, this initiative is a wonderful match for our most recent round of LIFE financial awards, according to Angelo Salsi, LIFE Programme Head of Unit at the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). "For more than 25 years, the EU has supported nature, the environment, and climate change via the LIFE initiative, one of the most effective and well-known financial mechanisms in the world. We anticipate that this initiative will have a favorable knock-on impact across Europe over the next decade and beyond.

Also Read: What is the different type of circuit breakers and its uses?

On the g3 project, GE's Grid Solutions teams will collaborate with a number of European partners. These include Transmission System Operators (TSOs), who will assist in testing and putting the finished product into use, as well as Brno University in the Czech Republic and the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology in Germany, both of which will establish the scientific database.

At 23 locations, GE's g3 equipment has been deployed by 18 top utilities, including the UK's National Grid, France's RTE, and Germany's TenneT. Together, these initiatives have prevented the grid from using more than 409,000 tons of CO2 equivalent.

Source: GE Newsroom

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