GE: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 sulfurhexafluoride (SF6)-free, 420 kiloVolt (kV) 63 kilo Amps (kA) gas-insulatedsubstation (GIS) circuit-breaker.

The new circuit-breaker will rely on GE’s industry-leading “Green Gas for Grid”—or “g³” (pronounced “g-cubed”)—technology, resultingin the same high performance and compact size as a traditional SF6-insulatedcircuit-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 kVgas-insulated substation circuit-breaker in the world.

A circuit-breaker is protective equipment used tocut power in case of a problem on the grid. High-voltage 420-kVcircuit-breakers are found at electrical substations on long-distancetransmission networks.

Due to its strong insulating and arc-quenchingproperties, SF6 is widely used in substation equipment with the transmissionindustry accounting for approximately 80% of the world’s usage. Identified as the world’s most potent greenhouse gas by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, SF6 isestimated 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 technologyis a game-changing alternative to SF6 for high-voltage equipment and is part ofGE’s broader efforts to help the electric transmissionand 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 levelused in most European countries, a proven g³–insulated420 kV circuit-breaker will demonstrate that g³technology can be applied to other high-voltage levels, as well as all othergas-insulated substation components, such as disconnectors, earthing switches,voltage transformers,” said Yannick Kieffel, GridSolutions’ Materials and Eco Design Team Leader andProject Leader for the EU-funded g³ project.

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

“This project is a great fit for our recentround 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 ExecutiveAgency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). “The LIFE program is one of the most efficient and well known EU fundingmechanisms that has supported nature, the environment and climate action forover 25 years. We look forward to the positive ripple effect this project willhave across Europe over the next decade and beyond.”

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

Today, 18 leading utilities - including UK’s National Grid, France’s RTE and Germany’s TenneT - have installedGE’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.