Despite growth in electricity demand

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– Electrical equipment can reduce SF6 emissions by 30% in 2030

Instead of almost doubling by 2030, greenhouse gas emissions from high-voltage electrical equipment could be reduced by 30%. This can be done by applying state-of-the-art equipment on a global scale.

A recent study by Ecofys, assigned by the electric industry, assesses the opportunities for electrical equipment for medium (1-52 kV) and high voltages (> 52 kV) like circuit breakers and switchgear to reduce emissions of the gas sulphurhexafluoride (SF6). This gas is used because of its high insulating capacity. However, SF6 is also a greenhouse gas with a high impact and long life in the atmosphere. Although concentrations are very low, SF6-emissions still contribute about 0.1 % in global warming.

The electric industry aims at reducing this contribution. The Emission Scenario Initiative on Sulphur Hexafluoride for Electric Industry commissioned a study that shows the emissions of high voltage (HV) and medium voltage (MV) electrical equipment during their whole lifetime (manufacturing, use and decommissioning). The assessment concerns the period 2005-2030 and gives an indication for the period 2030-2100. The scenarios will help the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to improve its emission scenarios.

Europe and Japan in particular, have already achieved significant SF6 emission reductions during the past 15-20 years. But the electricity demand and the use of SF6 in electrical equipment, especially in developing countries, is expected to grow further. If emissions remain uncontrolled in countries in transition and in developing countries, global SF6 emissions are projected to rise from 1,600 tonnes SF6 to 2,800 t by 2030.

Applying state-of-the-art equipment will more than compensate this growth. In an ‘additional action’ scenario, reduction of 30% by 2030 is achieved.

Jan-Martin Rhiemeier of Ecofys underlines that in times of a growing electricity demand, SF6 technology globally remains important for electric power transmission and distribution. “It is very important to raise awareness about the climate impact of SF6 and meanwhile, do something about it.”

For further information, not for publication:
Robert Coster
Press contact Ecofys

T: + 31 30 662 3532

About Ecofys (

Ecofys is a leading knowledge and innovation company that operates in the field of renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change. We deliver research and service solutions from product development to implementation management. Our clients are energy companies, financial institutions and corporate businesses, governments and local authorities, international institutions, project developers, housing associations, building companies and energy consumers around the world.

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