EU Supports GE for Circuit Breaker of Europe’s Electrical Grid
GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business has been awarded EUR 2.5 million through the European Commission’s LIFEclimate action program to help fund the development of a sulfur hexafluoride free 245 kilovolts G Cubed live tank circuit-breaker. The new circuit-breaker will rely on GE’s industry-leading g cubed gas technology to deliver the same high performance and compact dimensional footprint as a traditional SF6 circuit-breaker. The co-funding reflects the EU’s commitment to accelerate the decarbonization of Europe’s electrical grids and help them get ready for the EU’s stricter fluorinated gas regulation, which aims to cut F-gas emissions by two-thirds by 2030. GE’s g³ gas is a game-changing alternative to SF6 - a potent greenhouse gas - with a global warming potential that is about 99% less compared to SF6.
The new GE air-insulated 245 kV g3 live tank circuit-breaker, which will be based on International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards, is the second g3 gas project co-funded by the EU. In 2019, GE received funding for a g3 gas-insulated 420 kV circuit-breaker, also as part of the EU LIFE Program.
GE’s Grid Solutions teams will work with several European partners on this second EU-funded g³ gas project, including Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology, which will build a scientific database of g³ gas properties. Industrial partners will help optimize the environmental impact of the new circuit-breaker throughout its entire life cycle.
Due to its strong insulating and arc-quenching properties, SF6 is widely used in 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 estimated to contribute 23,500 times more emissions than CO₂ when leaked and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years.
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.