April 27, 2021 — Siemens Energy has been awarded a contract to deliver 10 bays of sulfur hexafluoride(SF6)-free gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) to Fingrid, Finland’s transmission system operator. It will be the first GIS in Finland that replaces SF6 as the most potent greenhouse gas in the world with “clean air”, a pure mixture of nitrogen and oxygen with zero potential for global warming. It represents Siemens Energy’s largest order for SF6-free high-voltage GIS in Europe to date.

SF6 is a fluorinated gas (F-gas) with a potential for global warming around 23,500 times greater than carbon dioxide and a life span of 3,200 years in the earth’s atmosphere. However, due to its unique physical properties, it is in most of the world’s substations still the insulating gas of choice. Fingrid decided to modernize the 110-kilovolts(kV)-switchgear in Virkkala substation in Lohja, located 60 kilometers west of Helsinki, so that it operates without any climate-harming gases. The GIS of type 8VN1 from Siemens Energy’s SF6-free Blue portfolio will ensure safe, climate-neutral, and reliable power transmission operation by using vacuum interrupters for switching and clean air as insulation medium, leading to an improved switching performance, simplified operation and maintenance while meeting highest health and safety standards. Commissioning is scheduled for summer 2022.

“Fingrid seeks to be a frontrunner when it comes to the replacement of SF6 in transmission operations. Modernizing the existing SF6-insulated 110 kV switchgear in Virkkala with a new one operating without SF6 gas is the first step on our strategic roadmap toward phasing out SF6 as insulating gas. Total reduction of SF6 gas at Virkkala substation will be 2.500 kg equal to 57.000 tons of CO2. With Siemens Energy we have found a reliable partner that offers innovative products with absolutely zero climate-harming fluorinated gases,” said Timo Kiiveri, Senior Vice President at Fingrid.

“We at Siemens Energy are proud that Fingrid has chosen our technology for their first SF6-free GIS. With its zero global warming potential our Blue portfolio is the most environmentally friendly switching technology available and will reliably support Fingrid in systematically phasing out SF6 as an insulating gas,” said Beatrix Natter, Executive Vice President Transmission at Siemens Energy.

Due to its high climate-harming potential and its long atmospheric lifetime, SF6 is banned for most applications with exception of the electricity sector. However, as part of the European Green Deal, the European Commission is currently reviewing the regulation of fluorinated gases. Over the last decade Siemens Energy has invested in the development of chemical-free alternatives to SF6 and as a result introduced the future-proof Blue portfolio which operates completely free of any F-gases and thereby goes beyond the common safety and environmental standards. It not only emphasizes the green aspect of the transmission technology, but also provides many other benefits for gas-insulated switchgear, circuit breakers and instrument transformers. Over the next years, Siemens Energy will implement their clean air technology at higher voltages as well.