On 5 July, Schneider Electric held a new Innovation Talk webinar, called “Sustainable MV technology for Future Electrical Networks”, in which it showcased its SF6-free medium voltage technology that will decarbonise the electric distribution grid. Inditex, Renault, Michelin and Azienda Trasporti Milanesi are among the 150+ companies that have already committed to this technology, with more than 5,000 units sold.
During the event, Schneider Electric explained the decarbonisation potential of the electric infrastructures, in a context in which “companies are implementing decarbonisation measures based on power generation, changing to the origin of the energy to renewables and modifying energy consumption by reducing it or making it more efficient”, explained Luisa Ramírez, Medium Voltage Product Manager at Schneider Electric. “These measures are having a positive impact but are not enough: we need to focus on the potential for improvement between generation and consumption, in other words, electric distribution, avoiding the use of fluorinated gases such as SF6 in the equipment that makes up the electric distribution grid.”
A round table also took place during the webinar to debate the needs of the electric distribution grids for end users. Adolfo Barroso Orgaz, Buildings Segments Director at Schneider Electric, explained that “in the hotel segment, sustainability represents a tourist attraction, as it is what the guests themselves are looking for. According to a report from Booking.com, 91% of Spanish travellers think that sustainable travel is vital. Meanwhile, the big challenge lies in the refurbishment of existing buildings, which are extremely deficient from the energy standpoint. For Schneider Electric, electrification is the way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels”.
As regards Industry, Manolo Jiménez, End User Industry Sales at Schneider Electric, commented that “in general, companies have a series of environmental commitments and we have already seen clients, such as Michelin, that have supported the opportunity that SF6-free equipment represents. Another key factor in Industry is that financing is increasingly more conditioned by the sustainable approach of the company”.
Finally, Manuel Pérez-Tabernero, End User Data Centre Sales Manager at Schneider Electric, explained that “companies in the Data Centre sector are aiming to lead this transition. Leading end users, like Amazon, have committed to net zero by 2040 across all their operations, and Google aims to achieve this by 2030. Just imagine what this means for the entire supply chain. It’s true that electrification of the Data Centre segment is well advanced, but the major challenge are Scope 3 emissions, and we must try to reduce them to the maximum”.
The webinar concluded with a demonstration of the SF6-free technology from the Schneider Electric laboratory in Technopole.
Sustainable technology for the MV end user
Today, there are over 30 MV cells installed around the world that use sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), a fluorinated gas that is found in most existing MV equipment. Considering its high greenhouse gas potential, last April 2022, the EU has proposed a review of the regulation to eliminate it. Given this scenario, which includes electrification, increased energy demand and the integration of renewables, companies need more efficient and sustainable MV equipment now more than ever.
Schneider Electric benefits from a consolidated and proven MV switchgear technology in companies and entities worldwide, which uses pure air and vacuum circuit breakers in place of SF6. In addition to using pure air, which is naturally sustainable, this is a technology that contributes to the circular economy, as it requires no treatment or special recycling at the end of its useful life and comes with a new, high efficiency operating mechanism that multiplies endurance ten-fold.
It also has advanced digital capabilities and connectivity that allows the application of predictive maintenance, which improves security, protection, efficiency, asset management and grid optimisation.
The SF6-free MV switchgear was recognised at the enerTIC 2020 awards for its application for E.ON, the largest utility in Sweden. International recognitions have also been received, such as the IF Design Award, the Industrial Energy Efficiency Award and has been recognised by the EU through the LIFE Programme.