Project replacing SF6 with greener alternative will cut emissions from high-voltage equipment

National Grid has partnered with Hitachi Energy in a pilot project at Richborough Substation in Kent, to develop and deploy a new solution to replace greenhouse gas Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6) with a greener alternative.

The change forms part of our ambition to reduce our SF6 emissions by 50% by 2030; by eliminating nearly 6 tonnes of SF6  emissions – the equivalent of taking more than 100,000 cars off the road – and removing all SF6 gas from electricity assets by 2050.
 

What is SF6 greenhouse gas?

SF6 is a gas commonly used in the electricity industry to prevent short circuits and to keep the network safe and reliable. The new solution allows us to replace SF6 in gas-insulated busbars with a greener alternative, without changing the equipment.
 

How will removing SF6 help reduce carbon emissions?

The transition to net zero means an increase in electricity generation and transmission assets, meaning more associated equipment such as electrical switches and circuit breakers. The vast majority of these safety devices (known as ‘switchgear’) use SF6 as an insulator. Removing the SF6 gases reduces our carbon emissions.

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and this … will help achieve wide-scale decarbonisation on our electricity transmission network.

Chris Bennett, Acting President of National Grid Electricity Transmission, said: “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and this new, transformational green technology will help achieve wide-scale decarbonisation on our electricity transmission network.
 

World-first transformational green technology

Hitachi Energy’s EconiQTM is the world’s first SF6 replacement product for installed gas-insulated switchgear. Using this new solution means that we can avoid the environmental impact and cost of replacing equipment, which is otherwise fit for many more years’ service. The technology uses a fluoronitrile-based gas mixture and reduces the carbon footprint throughout the total lifecycle of the equipment, while keeping reliability high.

Chris adds: “We are proud to be working with Hitachi Energy and to demonstrate a practical solution to a significant issue in the energy industry’s transition to net zero.”

Markus Heimbach, Managing Director of High Voltage Products business in Hitachi Energy, said: “We have a responsibility to help our customers like National Grid to accelerate the energy transition”. He also commented that the new, innovative technology “…will enable our customers and the industry as a whole to reduce carbon footprint and rapidly transition to eco-efficient solutions.”
 

What are greenhouse gases?