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GE Awarded $3.7 Million from U.S. Department of Energy to Accelerate Decarbonization of U.S. Electrical Grid
GE Awarded $3.7 Million from U.S. Department of Energy to Accelerate Decarbonization of U.S. Electrical Grid with Its g3 Gas Technology

Boston, MA, USA and Paris, FRANCE – October 27, 2021 – GE (NYSE-GE) announced today it has been awarded a total of US $3.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for two related projects to help accelerate the decarbonization of the U.S. electrical grid.

The first award in the amount of $2.3 million to GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business relates to the development of a sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)-free 245 kilovolt (kV) dead tank circuit-breaker1. The new circuit-breaker will use GE’s game-changing g3 (pronounced “g”- cubed) gas insulating and switching technology, which has a global warming potential that is 99% less compared with SF62, to deliver the same high performance as a traditional SF6 circuit-breaker. As g3 products have the same dimensions as SF6 equipment, there is no increase in emissions during the manufacturing process from additional material.

The second award to GE Research Center in the amount $1.4 million is part of a $2.7 million project led by the University of Connecticut that will focus on the life cycle management of g3 products, mainly gas leakages and byproduct detection, capture and monitoring tools.

“SF6 is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years. ARPA-E anticipates that any technology developed to replace SF6 could have a significant and widespread global impact as countries look to reduce, regulate, or eliminate SF6 emissions from their electrical grids,” said Dr. Isik Kizilyalli, ARPA-E Associate Director for Technology.

“We are honored that ARPA-E recognizes the importance GE’s g3 gas technology. This funding will help demonstrate the applicability of g3 gas for the commonly used 245 kV voltage level used by transmission operators in the U.S.,” said Danielle Merfeld, Chief Technology Officer at GE Renewable Energy. “One of the major advantages of GE’s g3 gas is that this fluoronitrile-based solution is scalable to higher voltage levels. As part of this project, the 245 kV g3 circuit breaker will be scaled to 550 kV, which helps accelerate market acceptance of SF6-free technology and support the U.S.’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”

Every year, an average of 450 tons of SF6 gas is installed on the U.S. grid by new manufactured electrical equipment, according to the greenhouse gas inventory data published by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This represents an estimated 11.3 million tons of CO2-equivalent installed in the country. By replacing the SF6 gas with GE’s g3 technology, this would represent a significant reduction in CO2-equivalent, comparable to about 2.5 million passenger vehicles on the road during a one-year period.

The g3 245 kV dead tank circuit-breaker leverages the expertise acquired in g3 by GE’s technology research center in Villeurbanne, France, and the know-how of its manufacturing site in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, where the new g3 circuit-breaker will be developed and built.

For more information about GE’s high-voltage g³ substation equipment and product roadmap, visit our website.

  1. 1 - Dead tank circuit-breaker: A circuit-breaker is a protective device used on the high voltage electrical network in case of a problem on the grid to cut or redirect the power through another path to avoid blackouts. High-voltage 245 kV circuit-breakers are found at electrical substations on transmission lines carrying the power to or within regional areas. A dead tank circuit-breaker is a circuit-breaker with interrupters in an earthed metal tank.
  2. 2- SF6: Due to its strong insulating and arc-quenching properties, SF₆ has been, and continues to be widely used in primary substation equipment with the transmission industry accounting for approximately 80% of the world’s usage. Identified as a potent greenhouse gas by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, SF₆ is currently estimated to contribute 25,200 times more emissions than CO₂ and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years (according to IPCC’s 6th assessment report published on August 7th, 2021).