€2.2m boost for green 420kV high voltage circuit breaker

February 19, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
An example of a 420 kV SF6-insulated substation courtesy of EU LIFE18 CCM/FR/001096 project.
A European project is to develop a 420 kiloVolt (kV) 63 kilo Amps (kA) gas-insulated substation (GIS) high voltage circuit breaker that doesn't use sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions has been awarded €2.2 million to help fund the development of 420 kiloVolt (kV) 63 kilo Amps (kA) gas-insulated substation (GIS) high voltage circuit breaker that doesn't use sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

As part of the European Commission’s LIFE climate action programme , GE will work with the Czech Republic’s Brno University and Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology, who will build the scientific database; CEA in France on the circuit-breaker development; and Transmission System Operators (TSOs) that will help test and implement the final device.

This willl use on GE’s Green Gas for Grid (g³) technology to provide the same high performance and compact size as a traditional SF6-insulated circuit-breaker, but with a gas mass having more than a 99 percent less environmental impact. By 2022, the g³ circuit-breaker is expected to be the first SF6-free 420 kV gas-insulated substation circuit-breaker in the world to be used in 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 per cent of the world’s usage and 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.

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