Power Electronics / Power Management

Schneider Electric partners with Drakenstein Municipality

30 April 2024 Power Electronics / Power Management

Drakenstein Municipality, situated in Paarl in the Western Cape, is one of the first distribution utilities globally to implement Schneider Electric’s green, SF6-free RM AirSeT switchgear with pure air technology and native digital connectivity.

The RM AirSeT switchgear project, installed in February 2023 at the Dalwes substation, was unveiled at an official launch event on 14 September at the Lemoenkloof Conference Centre, and attended by Mayoral Committee Members of Drakenstein Municipality, Dalwes substation executives, Schneider Electric, electrical consultants, electrical panel builders, and other industry experts.

The project sees Drakenstein Municipality taking proactive steps towards alleviating the harmful greenhouse gas emission (GHG) produced by SF6 gas (Sulphur hexafluoride) found in traditional gas-insulated switchgear which is 23 500 times more potent than CO2.

The RM AirSeT pure air switchgear installation, enabled by its native connectivity, also forms part of Drakenstein Municipality’s upgrade of its 25-year-old scada system to ETAP, a model-driven electrical scada software solution. The project, currently underway, is being rolled out in partnership with Schneider Electric and system integrator partner, Altek.

The RM AirSeT features include:

• Protection against harsh environments: It is completely sealed from the external environment, which provides extra protection against the harsh conditions of the grid such as humidity or saltwater. This design makes it suitable for utilities and some industrial applications.

• Its compact footprint enables it to be used for deployment in space-sensitive applications.

• Natively digital: The system offers condition-based maintenance features, feeding data from its sensors to both local field tools/apps and sophisticated analytics tools, which can be either hosted in the cloud, or on premise, depending on customer requirements.

• It offers a single solution for 24/7 app-based condition monitoring and control to check the quality of power connections, and identify and isolate faults in seconds, for reduced downtime.

• Built to last: The advanced Schneider Electric-patented CompoDrive operating mechanism is reinforced to handle the increased switching requirements of a modern, decentralised grid. With ten times the mechanical endurance of conventional mechanisms, RM AirSeT has a lifespan of 40 years and 10 000 operations.

• Peace of mind for regulatory compliance: SF6 gas is a regulated fluorinated gas, which currently has a special exemption for use in electrical distribution across many geographies. However, as alternatives become more readily available, various countries and territories are considering measures to restrict its use. Pure air offers ultimate transparency.


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