Nuventura is a Berlin-based R&D company that develops medium voltage (MV) gas insulated switchgear (GIS) technologies that replace as the insulating medium, Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6) – the world’s strongest greenhouse gas (GHG) – with dry air. Thus, developing a completely sustainable grid technology that contributes to the energy transition by tackling annual SF6 emissions that are equivalent to the yearly CO2 emissions produced by around 100 million cars, and also enabling for the technology’s full digitization. Their first product offering is a MV primary GIS for the 36 kV voltage range, with a 1250 A current rating.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

NUVENTURA: As an R&D company, our business model is to enable switchgear manufacturers to expand their own product portfolios.

Manufacturers can licence Nuventura’s switchgear design or buy key components (core tank) from Nuventura to incorporate into their own switchgear offerings. In so doing, we facilitate a transition to an SF6-free switchgear industry, which will be demanded by regulators in the EU, USA and other regions in the coming years.

E.E: What’s the news for 2021 about new products?

NUVENTURA: In terms of new products, by the end of 2021, we will add a 2500 A version of our dry-air primary GIS to our portfolio. In so doing we will be able to equip full substations.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

NUVENTURA: As mentioned, we can currently offer a primary 36 kV, 1250 A GIS, and will soon be able to provide a 2500 A version. In the longer term we will also begin the development of products for secondary distribution, and also a 24 kV version of our primary product. For this we are currently looking for partners with whom to collaborate on the development and demonstration projects.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

NUVENTURA: Of course, the market in which we are active has traditionally been very risk-averse and skeptical of new technologies. There has been a vicious cycle where a lack of demand from end-users (DSOs, industry etc.) has disincentivized switchgear manufacturers from designing sustainable alternatives to SF6-GIS. Due to the lack of alternatives, regulators have been unable to restrict the use of SF6-GIS. This is slowly changing, and we hope that through upcoming demonstration projects, we will show that dry-air GIS not only maintains the benefits of traditional SF6-using GIS (i.e. compactness, reliability etc.), but adds further benefits such as improved asset management through digitization.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

NUVENTURA: Current GIS market trends are very much influenced by the regulatory landscape. Most people in the industry accept that SF6 is an ”endagered species” and the question is not if its use in switchgear will be phased out, but when. This year, the European Commission will be publishing an update of the F-Gas regulation, where it is widely expected that SF6’s use in the energy industry will be more restricted with a likely phase-out timeline outlined. In the United States, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) have already stated that they plan on phasing out SF6 in new installations for most use-cases by 2025. Both CARB and the European Commission are global standard-setters when it comes to environmental policy, and their regulations are often followed by other regions around the world.

This regulatory landscape has led manufacturers to focus on developing more sustainable GIS alternatives. OEMs have adopted two broad and differing approaches. Some have tried to replace SF6 with other greenhouse gases (GHGs) that have a weaker global warming effect. The other approach – which Nuventura has adopted – is to redesign the switchgear in such as way that enables for the replacement of SF6 with dry (technical) air. We believe this to be the most future-proof approach, and an approach which enables performance benefits that are more difficult in GIS that contain GHGs.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

NUVENTURA: As far as we know, no other OEM has developed a MV primary GIS for the 36 kV voltage range that uses dry air as the insulating medium.

Moreover, our use of dry air also enables innovative features that are very difficult to implement in SF6-GIS. An example of which being the integration of sensors which enables a reduced total cost of ownership, and improved asset management. SF6-GIS need to be hermetically sealed for their operational lifetime, while our use of dry air makes it possible for users to integrate sensors into the GIS’ core tank which can gather valuable data such as temperature, pressure and partial discharge levels. This removes the need for any regular maintenance cycles and helps prolong the product’s operational lifetime through continuous online monitoring of its conditions.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2021?

NUVENTURA: In addition to the aforementioned expansion of our product portfolio, in 2021 we will also be commissioning two demonstration projects – with the German DSO E.ON / E.DIS, and also Apex Energy, a hydrogen manufacturing company. We also look forward to organizing more demonstration projects, and expanding our manufacturer client-base.