German utility gives green light to new grid technology

Source: ABB

One of Germany’s biggest distribution grid operators is among the first in the world to invest in ABB’s AirPlus™ technology.

One of Germany’s biggest distribution grid operators is among the first in the world to invest in ABB’s AirPlus™ technology.

Netze BW supplies 4.6 million inhabitants across the South West of Germany with power via its grid network, including its medium-voltage facility at Trochtelfingen.  Eight of the 31 switchgear panels housed there are now using ABB’s innovative eco-efficient AirPlus formula, derived from a fluoroketone gas mixture that has negligible global warming potential (GWP <1) compared to traditional SF6, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

Marcel Engel, Netze BW Grid Development expert, said, “We are delighted to be the first user of AirPlus in Germany and to have the opportunity to build this pilot facility in partnership with ABB, where we can gain more experience and gather essential data for future operations.  For decades, we have successfully used SF6 gas-insulated switchgears and, of course, we handle the gas with extreme care and precision. The introduction of AirPlus technology has been welcomed as there is very little difference in the switchgear design.”

Initial feedback on the AirPlus R&D project has been extremely positive, with Netze BW customers also responding well to the decision to adopt eco-efficient technologies.

Netze BW’s Managing Director of Technology, Dr Martin Konermann, commented: “We place great value on an environmentally sound supply of electricity, gas and water and bring in as much renewable energy into the network as possible in order to support Germany's commitment to make the country largely greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions-neutral by 2050.  We are also attempting to apply technological innovations to classical electrical equipment."

Netze BW is using the ZX2 AirPlus switchgear, designed for primary power distribution, which helps to ensure grid reliability, efficiency and safety.  Compact in design, the ZX2 is available in an IEC rating up to 36 kV, with 31.5 kA short-circuit and 2,000 A nominal current.  It features individual gas compartments for the circuit breaker and busbars, for either single or double busbar applications.

The AirPlus range also includes ABB’s SafeRing secondary distribution ring main unit (RMU), available in IEC ratings up to 24 kV, with 16 kA short-circuit and 630 A nominal current.  Launched in summer 2016, the AirPlus SafeRing represents a technology breakthrough for a RMU at this voltage level.

Bruno Melles, managing director of ABB’s Medium Voltage business said: “We are delighted to be working with Netze BW, which has built a reputation on being at the forefront of pioneering technologies and investing in solutions that support ABB’s vision for a greener world.”

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