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Schneider Electric Extends Award-Winning Green and Digital Switchgear Range with RM AirSeT™

Rueil-Malmaison, France

12/10/2021

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  • A gamechanger to decarbonize the grid and contribute to the global fight against climate change
  • Grids of the Future solution uses pure air and vacuum interruption, replacing SF6 greenhouse gas
  • Advanced smart ring main unit (RMU) is ‘natively digital’ from the factory with the option to scale connectivity and services
  • RM AirSeT, a once-in-a-generation innovation, maintains the compact size of traditional GIS switchgear while extending its maintenance-free operational lifespan and adding the freedom to combine functions

Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation and the World’s Most Sustainable Corporation in 2021 as ranked by Corporate Knights, today announces the world premiere of RM AirSeT, as part of its next-generation green and digital medium voltage (MV) switchgear family.

RM AirSeT combines the latest gas-insulated (GIS) switchgear with pure air technology and digital connectivity, equipping grid operators with a powerful weapon to decarbonize and modernize the grid, while enabling electric distribution utilities to improve operational performance and reliability. 

It is completely sealed from the external environment, which provides extra protection against the harsh conditions to which grid substations may be exposed, such as humidity or saltwater. This design makes it suitable for utilities and some industrial settings. 12kV and 24kV versions can be deployed depending on local market requirements. A GIS solution using pure air also removes the need for complex and costly gas recycling, which minimizes the Total Cost of Ownership of the equipment.

The rollout of RM AirSeT is a part of Schneider’s ‘Grids of the Future’ program and a milestone in in its progress towards producing a complete portfolio of SF6-free switchgear by 2025. SF6 is a potent greenhouse gas 23,500 times stronger than CO2. By eliminating its use in switchgear through an innovative and unique combination of pure air and Shunt Vacuum Interruption (SVI)™, the environmental footprint of electrical networks can be reduced. The ubiquity of MV switchgear currently deployed around the globe – an estimated 15 million units in Europe alone – means the new portfolio is a powerful vehicle to decarbonize distribution grids.

Having successfully launched its full portfolio of MV switchgear in China and received several awards for its sustainability excellence, Schneider Electric will make RM AirSeT commercially available in 2022.

During Schneider Electric's Innovation Summit World Tour, Frederic Godemel, Executive Vice President of Power Systems and Services at Schneider Electric, said: "The climate emergency has made the switch to renewables extremely urgent, but to be truly net zero, green energy should be delivered via a green network.”

“With our new technology there’s an unprecedented opportunity to decarbonize. For decades, SF6 gas has been used to insulate and break high and medium-voltage electrical current. Replacing it with pure air and vacuum interruption solutions like RM AirSeT across the wider electricity distribution network is a gamechanger for electric distribution grids – decarbonizing and preparing grid operators for grids of the future.”

“When you consider the 30-40-year lifespan of switchgear equipment utilities have a once in a generation opportunity to take action to avoid the risk of additional greenhouse gas emissions.  It’s really a simple choice to join the revolution and become part of the wider collective effort to stay within the 1.5 degree targets on global warming."

In addition to climate change concerns, growing energy demand, an influx of distributed energy resources such as renewables, electric vehicles and battery storage, mean utilities are undergoing extensive changes to deal with greater network complexity and achieve a successful energy transition.  At the same time, they must increase uptime, control their OpEx, and ensure the grid is future proofed for changes in regulations.

With this in mind, other key features and benefits of RM AirSeT include:

  • Natively digital: Schneider's new range of switchgear offers condition-based maintenance features, feeding data from its sensors to both local field tools/apps and sophisticated analytics tools such as those offered by Schneider Electric's robust EcoStruxure architecture and platform. The entire platform is connected to cloud data sharing to serve efficiency and safety of operations better
  • Management of more complex networks:  equipped with Easergy T300 Feeder Remote Terminal Unit, a modular, IoT-connected device for modern grid automation. It offers a single solution for 24/7 app-based condition monitoring and controls to check the quality of power connections, identify and isolate faults in seconds, and self-healing capabilities for reduced downtime.
  • Built to last: the advanced Schneider Electric-patented CompoDrive operating mechanism is reinforced to handle the increased switching requirements of a modern, decentralized grid. With ten times the mechanical endurance of conventional mechanisms, RM AirSeT has a life span of 40 years and 10,000 operations.
  • A compact footprint:  enabling easy deployment in space-sensitive applications
  • Complete and flexible range of functions: functions such as switch, switch-fuse, circuit breaker, and metering, and freedom to combine them
  • Peace of mind for regulatory compliance: SF6 gas is a regulated fluorinated gas, which currently has a special exemption for use in electrical distribution across many geographies. However, as alternatives become more readily available, the EU and a range of countries and territories are considering measures to restrict its use. Pure air offers ultimate transparency.

An expanding family of next-generation grid applications

The company is systematically building a complete portfolio of green alternatives to its SF6-based equipment and has a track record of successful pilot projects of its new SF6-free medium voltage switchgear at numerous electric utilities, including GreenAlp in France, EEC Engie in New Caledonia, E.ON in Sweden, and more recently Renault in France, and Azienda Trasporti Milanesi in Italy, with more being energized on a regular basis in private power networks for commercial and industrial applications and beyond. Other members of the family include SM AirSeT, an air-insulated switchgear (AIS) specifically designed for secondary electrical distribution markets such as industrial and commercial building applications and some utilities, is already available in several geographies in Asia, Europe, and South America. Schneider will also launch an SF6-free primary distribution GIS range geared toward more demanding and electro-intensive applications

For further information and 3D demos of RM AirSeT and to find out more about Schneider’s MV switchgear technology, register for the Innovation Summit World Tour here and visit the 'Grids of the Future' hub.

  • EcoStruxure™ is our open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. EcoStruxure delivers enhanced value around safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity for our customers. EcoStruxure leverages advancements in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity to deliver Innovation at Every Level. This includes Connected Products, Edge Control, and Apps, Analytics & Services, supported by Customer Lifecycle Software. EcoStruxure™ has been deployed in almost 500,000 sites with the support of 20,000+ developers, 650,000 service providers and partners, 3,000 utilities, and connects over 2 million assets under management.

    From energy and sustainability consulting to optimizing the life cycle of your operational systems, we have worldwide services to meet your business needs. As a customer-centric organization, Schneider Electric is your trusted advisor to help increase asset reliability, improve total cost of ownership, and drive your enterprise's digital transformation towards sustainability, efficiency and safety.

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