SF6-Free MV Switchgear: A Contributing Factor in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Cloud & Colocation Service Providers

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A recent IDC report showed that data center capacity is projected to grow 4.5 percent from 2019 to 2024[1], confirming that the market shows no signs of slowing. With this growth, comes immense pressure to operate these energy intensive facilities as sustainably as possible. In recent months we have seen some of the largest cloud providers make public sustainability commitments – to reduce their emissions and drive carbon out of their operations. But how will they do this?

New technology innovations can help cloud and colocation service providers reduce their green house gas (GHG) footprint. Schneider Electric’s new “air and vacuum” SF6-free switchgear serves as a good example.

SF6 is a greenhouse gas 23,500 times stronger than CO2. SF6 acts as a powerful electrical insulator and is found within most of the existing medium voltage switchgear installed base. When switchgear approaches end-of-life, great care in the disposal of the switchgear must be taken so that none of the SF6 is released into the atmosphere. All of this costly compliance is avoided when SF6-free switchgear is installed and managed.

colocation SF6 Free technology

A Sustainable and Innovative Design: SF6-Free MV Switchgear

For a company like Schneider Electric, sustainability measures and combatting environmental issues are part of the corporate DNA. In fact, we have committed to phasing-out SF6 from all products by 2025. Our efforts to reduce our own GHG emissions through the development of energy efficient and environmentally safe products make it easier for our key customers, such as cloud and colocation service providers, to achieve their own GHG emission reduction goals. Our Chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire has identified climate change as the single biggest threat to the health and well-being of our society. He has mandated that company business decisions and governance be directly influenced by a commitment to carbon neutrality, net-zero operational emissions and a net-zero supply chain. The development of SF6-free switchgear is one example of how we are accomplishing this goal.

Although many data center power distribution providers are changing their switchgear to be eco-friendlier, some may still pose environmental or health and safety issues. In contrast, Schneider Electric has introduced pure air innovation that allows MV switchgear to operate safely and efficiently using no GHG gases. By introducing new SF6-free switchgear offerings, and by aggressively working in collaboration with standards and regulatory bodies at the global and local levels, Schneider Electric is helping cloud and colocation providers to run more sustainable businesses.

Schneider Electric’s commitment to sustainability starts in the R&D lab with the development of innovative, energy consumption-reducing technologies. We then carry our approach through to the execution of sustainability programs that conserve energy, while, at the same time, driving global business growth. Our solutions enable our clients to track, manage and forecast key sustainability metrics such as energy, carbon, water and waste. Our connected technologies (software, cloud and ‘smart’ sensing devices) are key enablers for accelerating an organization’s GHG reduction. We harness our ecosystem of connected infrastructure to facilitate efficiency and sustainability in a safe, secure and reliable way.

Besides offering cloud and colocation service providers an emission reducing product, the smart design of Schneider Electric’s new SF6-free switchgear reduces footprint size, offers high resistance to harsh environments and enables safety features capable of extinguishing an electric arc. The new “air and vacuum” switchgear technology maintains the same levels of reliability and safety when switching power loads without a need to use SF6 gas. The innovative design means that switchgear operators and technicians don’t have to learn new practices, keeping them safer.

Sustainability Resources for Colocation Providers

To learn more about how this solution improves sustainability, access our White Paper, Innovative SF6-free Switch with Shunt Vacuum Interruption Technology. Also read this blog post on how data center operations can improve sustainability through SF6-free products.


[1] Source: Worldwide Datacenter Installation Census and Construction Forecast, 2020-2024; IDC Market Forecast, May 2020

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