Siemens Energy is investing over €60 million in a new 6200 sq m production facility in Berlin to manufacture its SF6-free vacuum interruptors. The vacuum interrupters are the technological core of the company’s Blue Portfolio, which consists of power transmission products in the high-voltage range and uses industrially purified air for insulation, and vacuum as the switching medium instead of climate-damaging fluorinated gases. The new manufacturing facility is scheduled to go into operation in 2023. 

The objective ultimately is to eliminate fluorinated gas insulated switchgear – in Germany alone, there are tens of thousands of such units in operation – because the most commonly used insulator and switching medium, sulphur hexaflouoride, SF6, is the most potent greenhouse gas – 1 kg of SF6 is equivalent to 25 200 kg of CO2 in terms of its climate-damaging effects, and it remains in the atmosphere for about 3200 years when emitted. 

“The consequences of rapidly advancing global warming require a fundamental change in the way we deal with energy,including power transmission,”said Ulf Katschinski, senior vp, Switching Products and Systems, at Siemens Energy. “Siemens Energy aims to sell only F-gas-free high-voltage switching technology starting in 2030 at the latest. With our new vacuum interrupter production, we’re laying the groundworkto achieve this goal and meet the growing demand for climate-neutral switchgear.”

The European Commission is currently working on the revision of the regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases, which is expected to significantly restrict the use of new SF6-insulated equipment. 

The new production facility will comply with the latest Industry4.0 standards, says Siemens. It will therefore be fully digitally connected and have highly automated equipment. It will be powered 100 % by electricity from renewable sources.