In 2019, Groupe E, a major power utility in Switzerland, contracted GE for the delivery of seven GL312g g³ live tank circuit breakers for the renovation of their Planchamps substation in the Neuchâtel region. In line with their sustainability targets, Groupe E is one of the first power distribution operators in Europe to select GE’s GL312g circuit breakers using g³ insulating and switching gas instead of SF₆.
“As an innovative player and driver of the energy transition, Groupe E has decided to give up SF₆ for its high-voltage installations in favor of a more sustainable solution: a new insulating and switching gas called g³, developed in recent years by GE. While it offers performance and technical characteristics similar to SF₆, it has a 99% reduced gas mass CO₂ impact as compared to SF₆ gas,” highlighted Frédéric Richoz, HV Network Manager at Groupe E.
Using g³ instead of SF₆ allows the circuit breaker to maintain the same performance while reducing the CO₂ equivalence of the gas mass in the equipment by 99%. Thanks to the high dielectric rating of g³, high voltage products using the gas can be of the same dimensions as those using SF₆. This combination of having a low global warming gas and requiring same quantity of material in construction gives g³ products the lowest environmental impact of all SF₆-free technologies over the lifetime of the equipment according to a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based on an ISO 14040 methodology.
GL 309g, 310g, GL 311g and GL 312g can be delivered as one pole (one spring mechanism per phase) or three pole (one common spring mechanism for the three phases) operated circuit-breaker.
For the Planchamps substation, GE’s GL312g live tank circuit breakers were delivered exactly like the SF₆ ones. Horizontal transportation laying on a wooden pallet eased delivery, and their handling during installation didn’t require any additional constraints. Filling process and commissioning tests on GL312g are performed similarly to SF₆ circuit breakers with which utilities are familiar.
Since the first order in 2019, Groupe E has placed another order for its substation in Saint-Loup and is considering GE’s GL312g for an upcoming project. The company has committed to remove SF₆ from their new projects and instead opt for SF₆-free solutions, such as GE’s g³ gas products.
“We are very proud to be the company which SF₆-free products helped Groupe E to make this decision and we are delighted to continue to support our customers get rid of SF₆ on their electrical grid without changing drastically their habits,” said Eric Chaussin, Senior Executive High Voltage Products at GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions.