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EU Funding Accelerates GE’s Development of World’s First SF6-free 420 kV Circuit-Breaker

EU Funding Accelerates GE’s Development of World’s First SF6-free
420 kV Circuit-Breaker

Paris, FRANCE – February 13, 2020 — GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business (NYSE-GE) has 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 industry-leading “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. 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.

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

“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 (EASME). “The LIFE program is one of the most efficient and well known  EU funding mechanisms that has supported nature, the environment and climate action for over 25 years. We look forward to the positive ripple effect this project will have across Europe over the next decade and beyond.”

GE’s Grid Solutions teams will work with several European partners on the g³ project. These include the Czech Republic’s Brno University and Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology, who will build the scientific database; CEA, a leading French company that will take part in the circuit-breaker development; and Transmission System Operators (TSOs) that will help test and implement the final product.

Today, 18 leading utilities - including UK’s National Grid, France’s RTE and Germany’s TenneT - have installed GE’s g³ equipment at 23 sites. Together, these projects have avoided the use of more than 409,000 tons of CO₂ equivalent on the grid.

For details about the g³ EU-funded circuit-breaker project LIFE18 CCM/FR/001096 LIFE GRID, click here.

For more information on GE’s high-voltage g³ substation equipment and roadmap to 2025, visit our website.

Click here for GE’s g³ interactive application.