GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business and Hitachi ABB Power Grids announced a non-exclusive, cross-licensing agreement related to the use of an alternative gas to sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆) used in high voltage equipment.
This fluoronitrile-based gas mixture has a significantly reduced impact on the environment compared to SF₆.
Under this landmark agreement announced just before Earth Day 2021 between two global leaders in power technologies – both companies will share complementary intellectual property related to their respective SF₆-free solutions. This will help accelerate the use of fluoronitrile-based eco-efficient insulation and switching gas in high-voltage equipment as an alternative to SF₆. A recent EU Commission report concluded that fluorinitrile-based gas mixtures may be the only insulating and switching gas alternative to SF₆ when space is a constraint.
This agreement paves the way for a standard SF₆-free solution for high-voltage equipment in the coming years. This would enable utilities and industries to accelerate their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, while facilitating their ability to plan, as well as operate and maintain their networks thanks to standardized services and the use of the same auxiliary equipment.
For almost half a century, SF₆ gas has been the norm in the electrical power transmission and distribution industry due to its unique physical properties. It is, however a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming if leaked. For this reason, GE and Hitachi ABB Power Grids have been investing in the development of better alternatives to SF₆.
“Utilities are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental footprint and the impact it has on their communities and the world around them. Today’s landmark agreement reinforces our commitment to help our customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, GE pioneered this fluoronitrile-based gas which we named g³ and subsequently developed a broad SF₆-free product range. Our g³ SF₆-free products have been commercially available since 2015 and feature the same compactness and performance as traditional SF₆ equipment,”Heiner Markhoff, CEO of GE’s Grid Solutions
“As part of our commitment towards a carbon-neutral future and accelerating the energy transition, we have chosen to work towards a standard solution to address the needs of our customers through this cross-licensing agreement, As a technology leader, we have always been at the frontier of gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) that became a key enabler for urbanization and installed the very first SF₆-free GIS that significantly reduces carbon footprint,” he added.Markus Heimbach, Managing Director of the High Voltage Products business in Hitachi ABB Power Grids
The two companies will keep the product development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and service activities of their gas solutions fully independent. Each company will continue to independently grant and set terms of licenses to its respective intellectual property, hence preserving supplier base diversity for the industry and fair competition.