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GE awarded $3,7 million from DOE for grid decarbonization


GE has been awarded $3,7 million funding from the US Department of Energy to advance two projects that will accelerate the decarbonization of the electrical grid in the US. The funds came specifically from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy office.

Firstly, $2,3 million will go to GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions. This segment of the company provides power utilities and industries worldwide with equipment; systems, and services to bring power reliably and efficiently from generation to end power consumers.

Moreover, the funding will advance the development of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)-free 245 kilovolt (kV) dead tank circuit-breaker. This device will use GE’s g3 solution; which is a gas insulating technology that has a global warming potential that is 99% less compared with SF62, to deliver the same high performance as a traditional SF6 circuit-breaker.

In addition, the g3 (pronounced ‘g cubed’) has the exact dimensions of SF6 equipment. Consequently, there is no increase in emissions during the manufacturing process from additional material.

Furthermore, the second award to GE is a $1,4 million grant. It is part of a broader investment of $2,7 million, for a project led by the University of Connecticut. This project will focus on the life cycle management of g3 products; mainly gas leakages and byproduct detection, capture and monitoring tools.

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Technology by GE with a substantial decarbonization potential

As SF6 is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, ARPA-E granted the funds to help advance the development of any technology able to replace the gas. About the matter, Dr. Isik Kizilyalli, ARPA-E Associate Director for Technology, said. “SF6 can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years.”

He also remarked that, as a result, “any technology developed to replace SF6 could have a widespread global impact as countries look to reduce, regulate, or eliminate SF6 emissions from their electrical grids.”

On the other hand, according to the greenhouse gas inventory data; published by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, around 450 tons of SF6 go out to the atmosphere by the US grid every year. Consequently, replacing it with GE’s g3 technology would represent a reduction comparable to about 2.5 million passenger vehicles on the road during a one-year period.

Finally, Danielle Merfeld, Chief Technology Officer at GE Renewable Energy, said. “One of the major advantages of GE’s g3 gas is that this fluoronitrile-based solution is scalable to higher voltage levels. As part of this project, the 245 kV g3 circuit breaker will be scaled to 550 kV, which helps accelerate market acceptance of SF6-free technology and support the US’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.”

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