One of the main objectives that more and more companies are adopting today is to start to put into place initiatives that help them to minimise their environmental impact and thus achieve the goal of planet sustainability along with mass decarbonisation. To achieve this aim, some structural changes need to take place to the energy systems. One of the most innovative technologies for achieving this goal are medium voltage, SF6-free switchgear.
Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is the most potent greenhouse gas – 23,500 times more than CO2 – and it is found in most MV switchgear. Electrification is progressing in leaps and bounds making it urgent to start to find alternatives to SF6. Electricity-intensive sectors such as buildings, transport, healthcare and data centres have an increasingly more urgent need to adapt to new technologies so that they can start to reduce their impact.
To help achieve this target, the MT SF6-free switchgear range from Schneider Electric, SM AirSeT, offers a more sustainable, efficient, secure and digital solution to progress towards a more electrified and decarbonised world. This innovative technology uses pure air insulation and Shunt Vacuum Interruption (SVI), offering an unprecedented level of sustainability in the sector, with a substantial improvement in both efficiency and security.
The SM AirSeT solution represents a huge step forward in sustainability, as it eliminates the need to use SF6. This is also a more efficient solution, as it benefits from a new high performance operating mechanism, CompoDrive, which increased the mechanical resistance of conventional mechanisms ten-fold. It also offers new optional plug-and-play pre-cabled, motorised accessories, which facilitate updating and installation, drastically reducing implementation and assembly time.
The range also improves operator security thanks to its powerful close control functions that allow users to manage it from a smart device with no physical interaction with the switchgear.
Its digital capabilities take maintenance to the next level, efficiently managing assets to optimise maintenance operations and increase service continuity. These features result in enhanced optimisation of the service life of the switchgear, in addition to reducing the risks and costs arising from downtime.
The new offer represents a development of the current most popular classic range of products from Schneider Electric for secondary power distribution, the SM6 range. However, with the same connections, dimensions and operation, the new SM AirSeT range is fully compatible with the SM6 and can be added to any installation.
A great example of the success of the SM AirSeT solution can be found at GreenAlp. The French city of Grenoble is surrounded by mountains, which makes the impact of global warming far more visible in this region over others. GreenAlp is one of the leading utilities in France, serving over 120,000 customers in Grenoble with major targets as regards efficiency and sustainability. It has six main electrical substations of 225,000 V or 63,000 V, which transform into 20,000 V and, in particular, 750 MV/LV substations. GreenAlp is highly committed to preserving the environment for future generations and decided to be a pilot for the SF6-free switchgear in one of its substations.
Within this framework, GreenAlp needed to implement an innovative operation that not only allowed it to adapt the grid to meet its own sustainability objectives, but also with those of the surrounding area, reducing the ecological footprint with GHG-free switchgear. Another particularly important aspect to consider was the need to achieve better real time visibility of the grid, along with uninterrupted connectivity to ensure service continuity.
By teaming up with Schneider Electric, their MV switchgear has been modernised with the new SF6-free technology. They needed a solution that was not only compatible with their own equipment but also offered the opportunity to completely eliminate SF6 gas. What most impressed them with this new solution from Schneider Electric is that, in addition to the technological innovations and digitalisation, SF6 is completely replaced by pure air.
By implementing this MV switchgear from Schneider Electric, GreenAlp was able to achieve greener operations with a compact footprint and proven efficiency, while its service has been to continue without interruption with real time control of the grid. In addition, the digital features offered by this solution provide enhanced equipment maintenance.
This new switchgear is the working revolution of tomorrow. It is a green, innovative and digital solution. Thanks to this new solution, GreenAlp has replaced SF6 with pure air and is able to analyse data to achieve an improved asset management, guaranteeing an optimised maintenance.