In cooperation with Siemens Smart Infrastructure, E.ON subsidiary Westnetz, one of Germany’s largest distribution grid operators, has expanded its Bekond substation in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate with a fluorine gas-free NXPLUS C 24 circuit-breaker panel. It is the first panel of its type in the world to go into operation using Clean Air, the climate-neutral insulation gas. This installation demonstrates the functionality of fluorine gas-free solutions in grid operations and shows an easy way to extend existing technology with the latest environmentally friendly technology.
Trial phases by grid operators are crucial prior to large-scale deployments of fluorine gas-free medium-voltage switchgear. “Until now, sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6 for short, has been used in many medium-voltage switchgear. This gas has excellent insulating and extinguishing properties, but it can be harmful to the environment if it leaks from the switchgear,” says Stefan Küppers, Chief Technology Officer of Westenergie AG and formerly Managing Director for Special Technology and Digitalisation at the wholly owned subsidiary Westnetz GmbH. “For this reason, we’re intensively looking for new technical solutions that combine high level of security of energy supply with climate-neutral technology. Together with Siemens AG, we want to test the new Clean Air technology and gather operational experience. This is an important step towards a climate-neutral future.”
“What particularly excites us as a company about the new Siemens NXPLUS C 24 product is its compatibility with the existing SF6 switchgear and its proven design and operating concept,” says Bastian Wölke, technical product manager for medium-voltage switchgear and systems at Westnetz GmbH.
“Our fluorine-gas-free switchgear enables our customers to achieve sustainable, safe and cost-efficient operation,” says Stephan May, CEO of the Distribution Systems Business Unit at Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “Our installed base of more than 130,000 NXPLUS C units can be expanded with the latest climate-neutral technology. The dimensions and operability of the unit remain unchanged. This creates security of investment for our customers and facilitates the transition to sustainable fluorine gas-free technologies.”
Westnetz GmbH supports the energy transition in Germany with numerous innovation projects and is a committed partner in the development and testing of new climate-neutral technologies for switchgear. With the environmentally friendly extension of its substation in Bekond, Westnetz now aims to combine high security of supply with climate-neutral technology. The Bekond substation supplies approximately 25,000 residents in the Trier-Saarburg district and the Trier Region Industrial Park (IRT) with electricity and is the feed-in point for renewable energy from photovoltaics and wind power into the distribution grid. Increased demand for connections from industrial customers and producers of renewable energy necessitated the extension of the existing gas-insulated 24-kV switchgear.