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LifeGRID and EU Industry Days 2021
GE’s g³ LifeGRID project: The development of a 420 kV SF₆-free circuit breaker

In February, the European Commission selected GE’s Grid Solutions’ g³ LifeGRID project to showcase Europe's industrial and environmental strategy by featuring it in the main exhibition of the fourth edition of the European Industry Days 2021.

What is LifeGRID?

GE’s LifeGRID project involves development of the 420 kV g³ circuit-breaker that will be the core component of our first-ever 420 kV g³ gas-insulated switchgear (GIS). Grid Solutions has received funding from the European Union under the European Commission's LIFE Programme to develop this circuit breaker.

LifeGRID is an opportunity for Grid Solutions’ R&D experts to collaborate with several European partners on the g³ project. Partners include:

  • Czech Republic’s Brno University and Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology, responsible for building the scientific database
  • CEA, a leading French company, collaborating in the circuit-breaker development
  • A Scottish customer contributing to the circuit-breaker’s main performance requirements and helping test and implement the final product

A key project for European Grid Operators

At the end of the project, GE’s new g³ circuit-breaker will become one of the main components of the European electric network at 420 kV (the backbone of the European power grid) with a drastically reduced impact on the environment (with over 99% reduction in CO₂ equivalent value than the commonly used SF₆ gas). 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.

The LifeGRID project will also demonstrate the scalability of GE’s g³ switching technology towards higher voltages and performance never achieved with SF₆-free solutions.

“This development is a major one for the future of the electrical grids and it does not happen every day. All people contributing to the g³ effort will have written a historical chapter in the transmission & distribution world. I encourage them to continue the effort with passion,” says Vera Silva, Chief Technology Officer at GE's Grid Solutions.

The benefits of working with the European Commission

The funding received from the EU LIFE Programme accelerates GE’s development capability. It also fosters collaboration between GE and its European partners on the g³ LifeGRID project and brings new ideas to the table.

The EU Commission selected this project to showcase Europe’s industrial and environmental strategy at the virtual event "EU Industry Days 2021". This is great recognition and a clear signal to the market that our g³ gas technology is a top alternative to SF₆ in the high voltage domain.

"We can all be proud to be part of a bigger project, and to help the European electric transmission and distribution industry reduce its greenhouse gas emissions," explains Yannick Kieffel, LifeGRID Project Leader and Materials and Eco-design Team Leader at GE’s Grid Solutions.

"For me as a scientific researcher, being involved in g³ gas development from the beginning is something that happens only once in a lifetime. But I would say that g³ gas is more than a ground-breaking innovation, it’s the story of people, promise and perseverance," he adds.

Next steps in g³ development across the globe

New g³ products will be developed in the coming years, and these products will benefit from the technology that has been established under the LifeGRID project.

Today, 23 leading utilities in Europe have chosen g³ gas as an alternative to SF₆. g³ gas has also been identified as an alternative to SF₆ for use in high-voltage equipment in a report published by the EU Commission in September 2020. This report concluded that there are cost-effective, technically feasible and energy efficient alternatives to SF₆. It also highlighted that g³ switchgear is the solution when space is a constraint as they feature the same compactness as traditional SF₆ equipment. Keeping the same dimension as SF₆ equipment, g³ products’ impact on the environment is greatly reduced compared to other alternatives. With g³ gas, utilities now have a true alternative to SF₆.

GE’s g³ gas is an alternative of choice for a number of utilities worldwide seeking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Our g³ gas technology and the LifeGRID project provide meaningful contributions against climate change – building a cleaner grid and planet, and enabling a better future for all European citizens.

Join us on our LifeGRID journey:

1. Follow us on LifeGRID | Groupes | LinkedIn
2. Visit our dedicated website (in 5 languages)
3. Share our video
4. More about g³: Green Gas for Grid - g³ - SF₆ Free Solutions (gegridsolutions.com)