Frequently Asked Questions

Doesn’t the large size of natural gas solutions mean they actually lead to more GHG emissions over the total life cycle? Therefore, wouldn’t life cycle analysis be a better parameter to use than GWP?

  • The CO2 emission footprint of natural origin gases is lower than that of F-gas solutions like SF6 Fluoronitrile and Fluoroketone. By using these F-gases, we cannot get to a CO2 neutral economy. Natural origin-based switchgear is the only technology to achieve a net zero CO2 footprint.
  • Although the size of current natural origin gas switchgear is larger, it is still smaller than some SF6 based switchgear in place today.
  • Companies are constantly innovating to make natural origin gas switchgear as small as possible, but this innovation will stall without a clear message from the EU that this is the way forward.

Isn’t the cost of natural gas alternatives too high compared to lower F-gas solutions?

  • Cost evaluations for carbon neutral switchgear should include CAPEX, OPEX and end-of-life costs, including costs for environment and society. This analysis shows that clean air switchgear may be somewhat more expensive upfront, but that it becomes cheaper than F-Gas alternatives when looking at Total Expenditure (TOTEX).
  • Increased investment cost factors for alternative switchgear can be compensated: (1) lower insulation capability of clean air insulation without F-gases and GHG can be compensated by higher pressure and housing design modifications; (2) lower sourcing quantities and lower production quantities can lead to increased investment costs, but the CAPEX costs will decrease once order, sourcing and production quantities ramp up.
  • Operators currently face high uncertainty about whether to invest in SF6-free equipment, but regulation can accelerate the shift to CO2 neutral transmission technologies.

There seems to be only one European supplier for the HV market. Wouldn’t switching to F-gas free alternatives therefore distort the market if only one company can provide this?

  • This is false, the opposite is in fact true: switching to F-gas free alternatives would bolster innovation and incentivise the creation of European champions and companies operating with F-gas free technologies.
  • These technologies are already available on the market and used by several energy and technology companies
  • In fact, not switching to F-gas free alternatives would perpetuate the current situation whereby one single American company holds the patent for the widely used F-gas Fluoronitrile.
  • In any case, Europe can either decide to buy toxic climate drivers based on American technology, or it can create a regulatory environment that strengthens Europe’s innovative edge and translates years of research and development into jobs, industrial growth, and competitiveness- For that, Europe will need to act quickly and boldly.

Many companies have not yet begun to innovate. Therefore, doesn’t this mean the Commission’s timelines are therefore too ambitious and would lead to competition issues because there won’t be enough suppliers?

  • First of all, there are already enough alternatives today and there will certainly be enough by 2030.
  • Nuventura, a relatively small start-up (30 people) managed to develop a 36 kV solution for primary and secondary switchgear within 8 years.
  • This is the same time foreseen in the Commission’s proposal (2030) which means it is feasible for companies only beginning the process of innovation to be ready by then.
  • Finally, without regulation there will never be incentives for innovation. We have to act today if we want more sustainable electricity grids tomorrow.

Would setting the limit for F-gas use in switchgear at GWP<10 restrict T&D operators?

  • Quite the opposite. Allowing for F-gas values with GWP>10 means sooner or later, all manufacturers will have to use F-gases due to decreased supply and demand for alternatives.
  • Natural origin gases and fluorinated gases will not co-exist in the long term due to cost differences. For the F-gas Fluoronitrile, one single US corporation holds a blocking patent and thus controls the market. Competition is thus absolutely restricted.
  • Setting the value at GWP<10 will encourage and allow operators to use natural gases. No one can levy a blocking patent on these gases. We have an "open source" here which is open to all competitors.

Don’t new industry safety standards mean that there is no need to phase out F-gases in switchgear because they can be used with little environmental impact?

  • This is incorrect. Phasing out F-gases/PFAS alternatives is the most efficient way to achieve climate neutrality.
  • Past experience with SF6 has shown that there is a certain amount of leakage from switchgear and that emissions occur during maintenance, due to a defect of equipment or failure (abnormal leakage of pressure reduction to ambient pressure), and, most importantly, during de-commissioning.
  • Limiting emissions by using state-of-art SF6 technology with lower quantities of gas and lower leakage rates isn’t enough.

Aren’t F-Gas free alternatives resource-intensive and therefore are not actually more sustainable?

  • Companies in the sector have developed solutions to optimise the resource-intensity of natural gas switchgear. While natural origin gas insulations without F-gases and greenhouse gases have a lower insulation capability, this can be compensated by higher pressure or innovative design features, such as low-power current and voltage transformers.
  • With the usage of natural origin gas, there is no need for special gas handling tools or trainings. Furthermore, it is a secure investment with no follow up cost from F-gas regulation or recycling. This will reduce the life cycle costs drastically.
  • The cost of using natural origin gas is therefore about 50% lower than SF6 and accessible worldwide, in contrast to costs associated with Fluornitrile-mix, which are approximately 20 times above SF6 due to higher leakage.