Hitachi ABB Power Grids Ltd and GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business have announced a non-exclusive, cross-licensing agreement related to the use of an alternative gas to sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) used in high voltage equipment, namely a fluoronitrile-based gas mixture that has a significantly reduced impact on the environment compared to SF6.
Under this agreement, announced just before Earth Day 2021, the two companies will share complementary intellectual property related to their respective SF6-free solutions. This will help accelerate the use of fluoronitrile-based eco-efficient insulation and switching gas in high-voltage equipment as an alternative to SF6. A recent EU Commission report concluded that fluorinitrile-based gas mixtures may be the only insulating and switching gas alternative to SF6 when space is a constraint.
Today’s agreement paves the way for a standard SF6-free solution for high-voltage equipment in the coming years. This would enable utilities and industries to accelerate their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, while facilitating their ability to plan, as well as operate and maintain their networks thanks to standardised services and the use of the same auxiliary equipment.
For almost half a century, SF6 gas has been the norm in the electrical power transmission and distribution industry due to its unique physical properties. It is, however a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming if leaked.
“Today’s landmark agreement reinforces our commitment to help our customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” said Heiner Markhoff, CEO of GE’s Grid Solutions. “GE pioneered a fluoronitrile-based gas which we named g3 and subsequently developed a broad SF6-free product range.”
The two companies will keep the product development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and service activities of their gas solutions fully independent. Each company will continue to independently grant and set terms of licences to its respective intellectual property, hence preserving supplier base diversity for the industry and fair competition.