Why SF6 Gas is obsolete in Distribution Switchgear
Following the EU’s proposal of the Green Deal: Phasing down Fluorinated Greenhouse gases, the press article acknowledged that SF6 was the most potent greenhouse gas and should be phased out in all new switchgear by 2031.
At distribution voltages, up to 38 kV, there are commercially viable alternatives to obsolete SF6 insulated equipment.
Modern SF6-free switchgear, such as NOJA Power’s OSM Recloser system, use solid dielectric insulation instead of gas. This material is a non-toxic epoxy resin, and NOJA Power’s design encapsulates this dielectric in a stainless steel tank to prevent UV degradation.
The OSM Recloser system is designed to fulfil multiple switchgear roles in the distribution network, where the device can be software-configured to act as legacy equipment. This allows for simple replacement without high network engineering design costs.
Future-oriented utilities have replaced their fleets of SF6 insulated sectionalisers and load break switches with NOJA Power’s OSM Recloser. For installations that require a point of isolation, a set of disconnect links are connected in series with the equipment, allowing the installation to fulfil the point-of-isolation role.
Modern reclosers such as the OSM Recloser system are cost competitive with SF6 Load break switches and Sectionalisers, particularly when considered in an installation and operational context.
There is also an increased risk of future audit and reporting obligations, if legislation such as the EU’s Green Deal becomes ratified.
“It's clear SF6 has no future on the electricity distribution grid,” says NOJA Power Group Managing Director Neil O’Sullivan.
“There are safe, viable alternatives today and there's no reason why any utility should be buying new SF6 insulated switchgear today.”
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