European Union LIFE Program Awards Schneider Electric for SF6-Free Capacity-Building Project
- A like minded pursuit of the EU LIFE program and Schneider Electric, the 4-year, pan-European LIFESF6FREE project will demonstrate the technical feasibility, safety, reliability, and environmental superiority of switchgear technology that avoids the use of SF6, a greenhouse gas.
- Extending their commitment to sustainable medium-voltage switching technology, Schneider Electric commits to further SF6-free R&D, pilot projects, field testing, and communicating results to public bodies.
Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, has received a grant from the European Union’s LIFE Program to demonstrate the robustness and technical feasibility of SF6-free medium-voltage switchgear. Created in 1992, the LIFE program is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action.
Working in close coordination with and reporting its findings to the EU LIFE Program, Schneider Electric continues innovating sustainable, digital technologies for a more low-carbon and energy-efficient future.
Schneider Electric is the only electrical equipment manufacturer to receive such funding for medium-voltage applications, which it will complement with its own substantial financial contribution to the project.
In addition to the project’s chief goal of demonstrating the operational and environmental legitimacy of sustainable medium voltage equipment in the electrical distribution networks of the future, the EU’s SF6-free capacity-building project with Schneider Electric is designed to raise awareness and give public bodies the proof-of-concept of alternatives to SF6-gas that are demonstrably safe, reliable, and climate-friendly.
The award follows on the heels of Schneider’s announcement in June at CIRED 2019 (the International Conference and Exhibition on Electricity Distribution), where the company unveiled its medium-voltage switchgear of the future. Designed for applications in primary and secondary electrical distribution, these new switching technologies use pure air instead of SF6 gas. The company demonstrated their innovative shunt vacuum interruption technology associated with pure air insulation, the combination of which enables the elimination of the SF6 greenhouse gas while maintaining the small footprint and cost-effectiveness of traditional SF6-based equipment.
Air is the best gas
"At Schneider Electric, we believe the best gas is air,” said Frederic Godemel, Executive Vice President of Power Systems at Schneider Electric. “Our new SF6-free technology represents an ideal alternative to the status quo, and we are proud to engage with the European Union’s LIFE Program to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability in our switchgear technologies.”
The company is already working closely with leading players in the utility and commercial/industrial building sectors, such as E.ON in Sweden and GreenAlp in Grenoble, France, in a variety of pilot projects, where the new SF6-free switching technology is operational today.
Schneider Electric underlined that their new SF6-free medium voltage switching technology achieves a level of cost efficiency that is crucial for the industry and vital for the widespread adoption of more sustainable equipment in the field.
The company further emphasized the benefits of the numerous digital technologies that can equip their new switchgear. For example, sensors for condition monitoring can unlock predictive and preventive asset management strategies by feeding data to sophisticated analytics tools such as those offered by Schneider Electric’s robust EcoStruxure architecture and platform.