The path to zero: F-gas-free power transmission

August 20, 2021

Due to their special chemical characteristics, man-made fluorinated gases (F-gases), such as sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6), are widely used in the electricity sector and are the standard insulation solution in most substations. However, these F-gases come with a downside: as greenhouse gases (GHG) they are harmful to the environment. SF 6 , for example, is around 25,200 times more harmful to the climate than CO 2.

Grid operators worldwide are searching for environmentally friendly methods of power transmission to minimize CO 2 emissions and to meet net-zero target goals. Furthermore, in various parts of the world new F-gas regulations are expected to restrict the use of F-gases in future. With its zero-F-gas Blue portfolio of high-voltage gas-insulated switchgear, circuit breakers and instrument transformers, Siemens Energy offers a future-proof and environmentally friendly alternative. Through the innovative combination of vacuum switching technology and clean air insulation, Blue switchgear use purified air as insulation medium instead of F-gases, which have been proven to pollute the environment and cause damage to health. Clean air consists of 80 percent nitrogen and 20 percent oxygen, both natural elements in the surrounding atmosphere. This means that every Blue product has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of zero.

Contributing to decarbonization

Fighting global warming remains one of the biggest challenges we face as society. For this reason, more and more countries are striving for decarbonization. Finland is one of the leading countries in this shift; here, 40 per cent of energy end-consumption is already being provided by renewable energy sources. Environmentally friendly transmission technologies can contribute greatly in driving the carbon footprint ever closer towards zero. After the installation of ten bays of zero-F-gas switchgear, the total reduction of SF 6 at Virkkala substation in Lohja (60 kilometers west of Helsinki) will be 2,5 tons – equivalent to 57,000 tons of CO 2. 

Learn more in the press release: 

Combining economic and ecological sustainability

Aside from the ecological aspects, grid operators must also consider economic and safety issues. The current review of F-gas regulations by the European Union is expected to lead to new legislation or even the banning of this insulation gas in the near future. The use of fluorinated gases already demands time-consuming and costly accounting and reporting. Moreover, the handling of the gas requires special safety measures. Reducing usage to zero by using clean air instead makes operations and maintenance easier, safer, more cost-efficient and future-proof.

That ecological and economic considerations can go hand in hand is demonstrated by Norwegian Energy provider BKK Nett, who achieved their own ambitious goals by upgrading their Bergen substation with zero-F-gas high-voltage switchgear in order to provide renewable energy to cruise ships.    

Learn more in our Energy Story:

Creating the substations of the future

Besides sustainability and decarbonization, digitalization is one of the most pressing topics in energy transmission. To meet the new challenges posed by the increasing proportion of volatile renewable energy sources and greater grid complexity, the use of data provided by digital assets in the substation will be of increasing importance. 

In Burladingen in Germany, Siemens Energy is combining the eco-friendly Blue portfolio with future-proof digital solutions to create a complete, sustainable and digitally-enabled substation of the future. 

Learn more here:

Bringing zero-F-gas technology offshore

For the special demands of the often hostile conditions of offshore applications, Siemens Energy has developed the Blue gas-insulated 8VM1 switchgear. With a capacity of up to 72.5 kV, it enables higher voltages within increasingly powerful wind turbines and can be installed inside a wind tower or a transition piece. This makes it possible to bring the concept of integrated clean energy solutions to wind parks like the Shantou Haojiang Industrial Park.    

Defining new standards of sustainability

For Siemens Energy to classify a product as “Blue”, it must meet a series of strict environmental protection and sustainability requirements. Since they use zero F-gases or other greenhouse gases, the Blue portfolio products are non-toxic, non-hazardous and require no special safety systems. This not only makes them easier to handle but means that the mandatory reporting of F-gas usage is avoided. In addition, the portfolio requires virtually zero maintenance, which means even lower costs during its life cycle. Siemens Energy Blue products guarantee absolutely zero CO 2 equivalent emissions over the operational lifecycle of the equipment - and they are easy to recycle, serving the cause of sustainability even after they have been decommissioned. 

For more information about the criteria to classify a product as Blue, please visit our Blue Portfolio website:


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