Schneider Electric has announced that it has launched its SF6-free switchgear at Elecrama 2020, India’s largest congregation of power sector ecosystem. The switchgear uses Shunt Vacuum Interruption (SVI) for switching and pure breathable air for insulation. The new technology offers a sustainable alternative to SF6 switchgear while maintaining an acceptable level of cost that’s necessary for the widespread adoption of sustainable switching technologies. The switches are compatible with Schneider Electric’s IoT enabled architecture, EcoStruxure, and allow users to take advantage of the digital features to unlock the value of data.
The increasing demand for electricity and the diversity of energy generation has increased the need for electrical infrastructure, such as switchgear and circuit breakers. SF6 has been widely used across the industry, from large power stations to wind turbines to electrical substations in towns and cities, because it helps prevent electrical accidents and fires. It exhibits valuable electrical properties, but it contributes to the greenhouse effect, with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 23,500, which means 1 kg of SF6 has an impact of 23,500 kg of CO2 on the environment. When the scientific research confirmed this issue Schneider Electric launched a mission to create alternative, sustainable MV switchgear that not only helps to reduce greenhouse gas inventory, but also avoids the problems of end-of-life recapture, recycling, and leakage.
Talking about Schneider’s position on SF6 switchgear and sustainability, Ponniah Sankarakumar, Director, Power Systems, Schneider Electric India, said, “At Schneider Electric, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. Understanding the environmental risks associated with SF6, in 2015 Schneider Electric, committed to provide new technology that offers a sustainable alternative to SF6 switchgear. With a unique innovative design, the SF6-free switchgear is an ingenious combination of proven solutions: air for insulation and vacuum technology for switching. Reinforced with digital capabilities the new switchgear is EcoStruxure-ready and will feed data to analytics and network management tools”
SF6-free offers are based on three of Schneider Electric’s most popular product ranges for secondary and primary electrical distribution: SM6, RM6, and GHA. Both air and vacuum are well-known and proven solutions used in switchgear, but the company’s technology offers unchallenged benefits of SF6 switchgear without the necessity to use the gas. The combination of vacuum interruption and a disconnector in air reduces the number of components, lowers costs, and allows it to operate as a traditional SF6 3-position switch. The technology combines different devices and their design architecture to deliver a compact solution with the same or similar dimensions as traditional switchgear.
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