Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide reliable and sustainable power across its networks in Italy and Spain, thanks to the installation of ABB’s innovative SF6-free Ring Main Units (RMUs), specifically designed for Enel’s requirements.

The project represents an important step toward delivering increasingly sustainable power grids. The pilot installation involves 20 new ABB SafePlus AirPlus Medium Voltage (MV) RMUs in Enel’s secondary substations across Italy and Spain and will contribute to minimize their global warming potential while making switchgear operation and maintenance safer for personnel. 

Gas-insulated switchgear, widely used in MV secondary substations, conventionally contain SF6, which has excellent dielectric and arc-extinguishing properties, but, at the same time, is the world’s most potent greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential 25,200 times that of CO2.

The new SafePlus AirPlus, part of ABB’s ecoGIS family of products, features innovative load break switches (LBSs) optimized for SF6-alternative gases. Unlike traditional alternatives, the switch is based on puffer interrupter technology and functions as both a load break and disconnector switch for maximum safety. ABB’s SafePlus AirPlus low-pressure design with has a 0.4 bar relative pressure, which reduces the risk of leaks and accidents due to electrical arcs and makes it safe to operate, even in the case of abnormal gas leakages. Therefore, in the unlikely event of a leakage, ABB’s low-pressure design based on AirPlus as an eco-friendly SF6 alternative, ensures the highest availability and reliability of the network. 

“The installation of the world’s first SF6-free SafePlus AirPlus Ring Main Units is another example of ABB working in partnership with customers to create sustainable solutions that are better for our planet and our society,” said Alessandro Palin, division president of ABB Distribution Solutions. “With ongoing political discussions about a complete ban of SF6 in new installations, including the EU’s latest proposal, this proves that migrating to a more certain future with SF6-free alternatives, which practically offer the same known and proven benefits, is possible, and possible now.” 

“To reach our net-zero goals, sustainability must be at the core of our present and future business,” said Francesco Amadei, head of engineering and construction for Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks. “For this reason, at Enel we started integrating new principles in all our processes, including sustainable specifications together with technical and economical parameters already in place. The collaboration with innovative partners, such as ABB, is key to accelerating the delivery of sustainable grids worldwide, a challenging path forward that must include all components and assets of the value chain. Innovative solutions like ABB’s SF6-free technology will help us to minimize our global warming impact and support our commitment to the 13th SDG goal — climate action. They will also help to make our networks increasingly safe and reliable, ensuring continuity and quality of the electricity supply to our customers.”