Discussions on the potential ban on the use of SF6 gas, which we highlighted in our press release two weeks ago, continue and ENA has met with key UK MEPs on the Environment Committee to brief them.
This appears to be delivering some success for the networks as we have now heard from the Rapporteur’s office that Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout is planning to withdraw his initial amendment to ban SF6 in medium voltage (MV) switchgear from January 2020. It is understood that, instead, he is now developing a compromise amendment that would see a ban on new switchgear only, after 2023 and subject to a review by the Commission in 2018 of available alternative technologies and their costs.
Nevertheless, as a point of principle, ENA would say that any SF6 ban in MV switchgear is inappropriate – SF6 technology works well, is cost effective, any SF6 gas leaks are minimal and carefully monitored, and then recycled. The alternative, air insulated technology, is primarily intended to be operated indoors, which is fundamentally incompatible with the location of a significant proportion of UK switchgear.
ENA representatives are due to meet with Defra this week at a key meeting to discuss the UK Government approach to the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation dossier that this amendment was tabled with, and plan to meet with the Rapporteur himself at the of the month to discuss a more realistic approach to this issue.
There is a lack of alternative insulating technologies at some voltages and any wholesale rushed changes to switchgear specifications risk UK operational impacts and the potential for interruptions to supply. There could also be huge costs falling on energy consumers if DNOs are compelled to purchase more expensive non-F Gas switchgear.