On 5th of April
2022, the European Commission has released a legislative proposal to update the 2014 F-gas Regulation in order
to more tightly control fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases). Sulfur
hexafluoride (SF6) is one of these gases. It has been used for more than 35
years in electricity transmission and distribution equipment as a switching and
insulating gas. However, SF6 is the most potent greenhouse gas, with
a warming potential 25,200 times higher than carbon dioxide (CO2)
and an atmospheric residence of up to 3,200 years. Siemens welcomes the
Commission’s proposal. As one of the leading manufacturers Siemens has already
developed F-gas-free alternatives, using Clean Air (natural origin gases) for
gas-insulated switchgears. While also using proven vacuum switching
technology, it’s possible to replace SF6 as an insulating and switching gas
with a completely fluorinate free gas, thus avoiding any possible impact on
environment and health.
Siemens, we are already able to provide SF6-free gas insulated switchgears
(GIS) up to 24 kV without the use of fluorinated gases, while not having to compromise
on safety, availability, lifecycle costs, and size,” said Stephan May, CEO of
the Electrification & Automation Business Unit at Siemens Smart
Infrastructure. “The only sensible solution to replace SF6 in medium-voltage
switchgears, is the use of natural-origin
components of the ambient air. As the average lifetime expectancy of these electrical
products is in the range of 35 years, changing directly to Clean Air is the
most future-proof solution to comply with all possible upcoming environmental
Siemens’ environment and
climate-friendly gas-insulated switchgears (GIS), branded “blue GIS”, are fully
replacing SF6 with an insulating gas containing gases of natural origin (Clean
Air). Clean Air consists of natural components of the ambient air and is
therefore not only free of F-gases, but also harmless, extremely stable,
non-toxic, non-flammable, and suitable for all operating temperatures. It has a
global warming potential (GWP) < 1 and can be released into the atmosphere
at the end of its lifespan.
The ecological footprint of “blue
GIS” products is lower than that of comparable conventional products. These new
GIS designs meet the same high expectations of public and private grid
operators for gas-insulated high-tech switchgears, as with current SF6
technology today. This applies particularly to functionality,
personnel safety, health and environmental protection, long service life,
maintenance-free operation, compact size, durability, recyclability, and
cost-effectiveness over the entire lifecycle. According to the F-gas regulation
draft, training, and reporting obligations with our “blue GIS” are obsolete.
The Siemens “blue portfolio”
already includes F-gas-free solutions for the 12 kV and 24 kV voltage levels.
Siemens has solutions in service for both primary and secondary 12 kV
gas-insulated systems, while the first 24 kV
solutions are already deployed, and 40.5 kV versions are going to be
introduced accordingly. In total, several thousand solutions are in the field.
The “blue portfolio” makes it
possible to modernize and expand existing power grids at the highest levels of
safety and simultaneously reduces the ecological footprint without compromising
on performance or economic feasibility.
As the first existing SF6
switchgears are approaching end of life, Siemens will support its customers as
a reliable partner during the decommissioning and replacement, along with a
proven disposal process and related services.
According to the EU
Commission, at EU level, F-gases currently account for 2.5% of total greenhouse
gas emissions. The strengthened F-gas proposal is intended to save the
equivalent of 40 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030, beyond the
expected reduction under current legislation, reaching total additional savings
equivalent to 310 million tons of CO2 by 2050.