November 23, 2021

Siemens Energy invests $68m in climate-friendly Berlin site

categories : oil and gas

Siemens Energy is investing over €60 million ($68 million) in a new vacuum interrupter production facility in Berlin, which is a clear commitment to climate-neutral power transmission.

In the future, vacuum interrupters will be manufactured in the company’s switchgear plant in 6,200 sq m of space. The vacuum interrupters are the technological core of the Blue Portfolio, which comprises climate-neutral 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.

In Germany alone, tens of thousands of switchgear ensure that electricity reaches consumers reliably every day. They’re responsible for power distribution in places like substations and wind turbines.

The problem is that fluorinated gases (F-gases) are usually used for insulation and as the switching medium in these systems, especially sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), the most potent greenhouse gas in the world. One kilogram of SF6 is equivalent to 25,200 kilograms of CO2 in terms of its climate-damaging effects, and it remains in the atmosphere for about 3,200 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 Vice President 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 groundwork to achieve this goal and meet the growing demand for climate-neutral switchgear.”

Christian Rickerts, State Secretary of the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises: 'The production of vacuum interrupters in Siemensstadt is a clear commitment to Berlin as an industrial location, to the energy transition and to climate protection. Siemens Energy is demonstrating in Berlin how climate-friendly and sustainable transformation of conventional technology can work.'

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.

And climate-neutral alternatives with a global warming potential of zero already exist: The vacuum interrupters that will be manufactured in Berlin in the future will be used in the switchgear in Siemens Energy’s Blue Portfolio. The Blue Portfolio already includes high-voltage switching products up to a voltage level of 170 kilovolts (kV); Siemens Energy is working to further develop them for a voltage level up to 400 kV. Instead of using F-gases, all switchgear in the Blue Portfolio use vacuum interrupters and industrially purified air made from natural oxygen and nitrogen.

The new production facility will comply with the latest Industry 4.0 standards: It will therefore be fully digitally connected and have highly automated equipment. Like the entire Siemens Energy switchgear plant in Berlin, the new production facility will be powered 100% by electricity from renewable sources.

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