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Press Release

EU supports GE’s development of a 245 kV g3 circuit-breaker to accelerate decarbonization of Europe’s electrical grid

July 22, 2021
  • EU’s LIFE program recognizes potential of GE Renewable Energy’s g3 insulating and switching gas as an alternative to sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) to help significantly cut global greenhouse gas emissions
  • This is the second GE g3 gas project to be co-funded by the EU within two years
  • New g3 gas 245 kV circuit-breaker will be scalable to other high-voltage levels across Europe’s electrical grids and help utilities get ready for stricter fluorinated (F)-gas regulations

Paris, FRANCE – July 22, 2021 – GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business (NYSE-GE) has been awarded €2.5 million through the European Commission’s LIFE  climate action program to help fund the development of a sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)1-free 245 kilovolts (kV) g³ live tank circuit-breaker2. The new circuit-breaker will rely on GE’s industry-leading g3 (pronounced “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 (F)-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 (GWP) 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. 

“The EU’s co-funding of a g3 245 kV live tank circuit-breaker will help demonstrate the applicability of GE’s g3 gas for this commonly used voltage level by transmission operators around the world, as well as outdoor applications down to -30°C,” said Vera Silva, Chief Technology Officer at GE’s Grid Solutions. “The new g3 245 kV live tank circuit-breakers, once ramped up together with  420 kV voltage level, will help avoid the addition of some 52,000 tons of CO2 equivalent annually on to the European grid alone and more – as we expect other continents to adopt our g3 gas technology.”

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.

A recent EU Commission report concluded that fluoronitrile-based gas mixtures – such as g3 gas - may be the only insulating and switching gas alternative to SF6 when space is a constraint, such as in urban areas. That’s because fluoronitrile-based gas products feature the same compactness and performance as traditional SF6 equipment, unlike other SF6-free solutions.

Today, 25 leading electrical utilities have already adopted GE’s g3 products for their high voltage networks, avoiding the addition of more than a million tons of CO₂ equivalent to the grid. That’s the equivalent of removing about 476,000 petrol cars from the road for one year.

GE’s g3 gas-insulated products are currently available for live-tank circuit-breakers and gas-insulated substations (GIS) up to 145 kV, as well as gas-insulated lines (GIL) up to 420 kV.

For more information on GE’s high-voltage g³ substation equipment and product roadmap, visit our website.

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Notes to the Editor:

  1. SF6: 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.
  2. Circuit-breaker: 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.

About GE’s Grid Solutions
Grid Solutions, a GE Renewable Energy business, serves customers globally with over 13,000 employees. Grid Solutions provides power utilities and industries worldwide with equipment, systems and services to bring power reliably and efficiently from the point of generation to end power consumers. Grid Solutions is focused on addressing the challenges of the energy transition by enabling the safe and reliable connection of renewable and distributed energy resources to the grid. For more about GE’s Grid Solutions, visit https://www.gegridsolutions.com.

About GE’s g3 gas
GE’s alternative to SF6 is g3 insulating and switching gas representing the culmination of a decade of research and development by its teams in France, Germany and Switzerland in collaboration with 3M Company. The g3 gas mixture is based on carbon dioxide, oxygen, and 3M™ Novec™ 4710 Dielectric Fluid from the 3M fluoronitrile family. Fluoronitrile was identified by R&D experts as the most suitable additive to CO2 and O2 to reach the targeted environmental benefit of an alternative to SF6, without compromising the equipment’s technical performance and footprint. As a result, the global warming potential (GWP) of GE’s g3 gas is some 99% lower as compared to SF6.  In terms of technical performance, g3 high voltage equipment offers not only the same performance as SF6 products, it also features the same dimensional footprint as compared to SF6 equipment and operates in the same ambient conditions (down to -30°C).

More about g3 - SF6 Free Solutions (gegridsolutions.com)

More about g3 development, GE’s fluoronitrile based gas mixture: In search of an SF6 replacement | Think Grid (think-grid.org)

For media inquiries, please contact:

Allison J. Cohen
External Communications, Grid Solutions
GE Vernova
+972 54 7299742
[email protected]

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