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Harald Mayer |

GIS Substation - 50 years of power

Thanks to efficient service, the first gas-insulated switchgear ever supplied by Siemens is still in operation – something no one could have predicted in 1968.


The first gas-insulated switchgear ever supplied by Siemens is celebrating its 50th birthday in Berlin. Thanks to predictive services and life-extending measures, the substation can continue to operate for decades. “We do everything we can to offer our customers attractive service models that extend the life of their systems and as a result save investment costs,” says Enrico Adler, Product Lifecycle Manager at Siemens Energy Management.


The energized atmosphere of the ‘60s wasn’t all due to politics. The first SF6 gas-insulated switchgear also hit the market toward the close of the decade. At that time, neither the engineers nor the customers could have predicted that their pioneer switchgear would live to be 50, 60, and even 70 years old. There were no experiences or standards to support the innovation. And yet the first GIS ever supplied by Siemens is still in the German capital Berlin and has been in operation since 1968. 


30 percent of GISs are outdated

“Thanks to new switchgear panels and various retrofits – including a completely new substation automation system and modern switchgear interlocking protection – the substation is still functioning to the operator’s full satisfaction on its 50th birthday,” says Enrico Adler, Product Lifecycle Manager at Siemens Energy Management. Adler even expects the substation to operate for another 15 to 20 years. Extending these plants’ lifespan is his job. He mainly focuses on gas-insulted high-voltage switchgear and their components. “About 30 percent of these switchgear worldwide are more than 20 years old and are ready for life-extending measures,” says the engineer.


Profitably bridging technological change

The innovation cycles for GIS systems are relatively long. A good 10 to 15 years can pass before a new technology captures the market. Adler explains: “For example, there’s currently a gradual shift from SF6 gas to vacuum technology. Nevertheless, continuing to operate their older switchgear at a lower cost than they would incur with a new switchgear is a practical and very profitable solution for them.” It lets them bridge the gap and invest in the right new technology at the right time.


A longer switchgear lifespan is also good for the environment

The engineer sees even more benefits for customers: Building new switchgear not only means investment costs, it also requires energy and precious raw materials such as aluminum and steel. The production process itself produces a large quantity of CO2. Predictive services like a timely modernization and retrofit of older switchgear eliminates this effort, which has a positive effect on the environment.



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