It has been around four months since Hitachi ABB Power Grids launched its HV SF6-free switchgear portfolio called EconiQ. Recently, at CIGRE 2021, Hitachi ABB Power Grids has announced its roadmap for its upcoming SF6-free switchgear launches. The roadmap illustrates the extensive portfolio of switchgear and breakers in various voltage levels in the R&D pipeline consisting of live tank breakers, dead tank breakers, hybrid switchgear and gas-insulated switchgear (GIS). A major landmark is the EconiQ 420 kV GIS expected for release at the end of 2022. It will be the world’s first commercial alternative to SF6 for GIS that includes circuit breaker for power transmission networks.

These products entering the market will give rise to a new wave of competition in the industry for SF6-free solutions. This healthy competition is necessary to create price pressure and can potentially result in the purchase price of SF6-free switchgear declining in the coming years. High initial purchase price is the main bottleneck or hindrance towards the widespread adoption of SF6-free switchgear, therefore, suppliers introducing more options for SF6-free switchgear is crucial for instigating a decline in the price for this type of switchgear.

There are three main players within the realm of HV SF6-free switchgear; namely, GE Grid Solutions, Hitachi ABB Power Grids and Siemens Energy. GE Grid Solutions and Hitachi ABB Power Grids both utilize fluoronitrile-based gas mixtures in place of SF6, that they developed in collaboration with 3M. On the other hand, Siemens Energy uses Clean Air insulation in conjunction with vacuum circuit breaker. It is promising to see that diverse solutions are available in the market (and even more will follow in the coming years) resulting in price pressure, in turn making SF6-free switchgear more affordable as well as accessible for the end-users moving forward.

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