If you manage or work in a facility that relies on medium voltage power, you’re likely tasked with helping your company meet its sustainability goals, specifically in regard to emissions reductions and energy savings. You may have already upgraded your HVAC or air compressors or changed your facility lighting to LEDs. Or maybe you’re in the 1 percent of hospitals and office buildings generating renewable energy onsite.

But historically there’s been no viable solution to addressing carbon emissions from an electrical distribution level—until now. Today, Schneider Electric offers a new solution at the electrical distribution level to help you further reduce your carbon output: Natively digital medium voltage circuit breakers and redesigned switchgear with sustainability at the forefront of its innovation.

How do new medium voltage circuit breakers and switchgear monitor electrical distribution for CO2 reduction?  Digital integration at the medium voltage circuit breaker level works as the brain of a smart, digital switchgear system. The circuit breakers communicate with other components in the switchgear to control, protect, and isolate power systems. This includes real-time electrical distribution monitoring of both the line side and the load side.

With digital sensors at the switchgear level, you can determine which components are running at ideal conditions and which ones need maintenance in real time. You can analyze your energy consumption to establish baselines of carbon emissions and then make immediate adjustments. For example, you may discover a new component, such as an open-and-close coil, is actually running at a higher temperature than your older components, which in turn can increase carbon emissions.

With this real-time operational insight, you are also more likely to operate at peak energy efficiency between service cycles. You may even be able to extend your overall maintenance cycles from every two to three years under normal operating conditions to every four to five years.

There are other possible trickle-down benefits of digitally monitoring your facility’s operations at the switchgear level. Once you’ve made your equipment and system adjustments, you may be able to operate your facility with a smaller transformer that uses less energy.

To illustrate, let’s compare this to the steps you’d take to make a home more energy efficient.  If you add insulation and upgrade your windows with replacements that are Energy Star rated, you may be able to use a smaller air conditioning unit to adequately cool your home. The same philosophy applies to a facility by using more efficient switchgear, you can reduce replacement and upgrades, as well as unexpected service calls.

Now that we’ve looked at the ways you can use new digital circuit breakers and switchgears to help you reduce your facility’s carbon footprint, let’s look at how you can increase the transparency of your sustainability efforts.

Schneider Electric is one of the first medium voltage manufacturers in the U.S. to publish a circuit breaker Product Environmental Profile (PEP), which is third-party certification of production information. The new EvoPacT circuit breaker and SureSeT switchgear are both verified as Green Premium, the ecolabel for products that provide transparency for material content, regulatory information, and environmental impact.

Image Credit: Jodi Palmer, Schneider Electric

The PEP certifies the carbon-reduction impact of the newly-designed switchgear and digitally-integrated medium voltage circuit breakers, compared to an equivalent of a traditional, metal-clad switchgear lineup.

These carbon reduction indicators include:

  • An upstream reduction of 12.4 kilotons of C02, based on the difference in materials used in the manufacturing, preparation, and assembly of the switchgear.
  • A downstream savings of 101 kilotons of C02, based on the use of traditional switchgear over 20 years.
  • Saved and avoided 3.5 kilotons of C02 per year, which equals about 3% improvement with the new switchgear design.
  • Across all the new switchgear units, the annual savings would be enough to charge 425 million cell phones.

The new circuit breakers and switchgears are also both verified as Green Premium, the Schneider Electrica ecolabel for products that meet various sustainability standards and regulations, including California Prop 65, RoHS, and REACH.

Digitally-integrated medium voltage circuit breakers are smaller than traditional circuit breakers, reducing the overall footprint by 25%.  This is why Schneider Electric’s new switchgear design has 26-inch wide cabinets with all the components stacked on top of the circuit breaker component. The entire switchgear cabinet has a 25% smaller footprint than conventional metal-clad switchgear.

A smaller footprint for facility equipment means you require less materials for facility upgrades and related construction, such as copper, steel, and lengths of wire. It also can translate to space savings and lower energy demands for electrical control rooms, outdoor equipment houses, and concrete storage structures.

The new switchgear design is more durable, which in turn is more environmentally friendly. The new circuit breakers have been tested to last up to 30,000 operations, which is about three times the industry standard. These tests also showed durability increased from 20 years to 40 years. This means facilities will replace the circuit breakers less often, producing less waste requiring carbon-emitting disposal, with the added benefit of reducing maintenance and costs.

Digital medium voltage circuit breakers and switchgear are key to making your facility more sustainable at an operational level.

Now that we’ve presented opportunities for using digital medium voltage circuit breakers and newly designed switchgear to help reduce your carbon footprint, you can stop looking at your electrical distribution system as just another cost of operating a facility.

Instead, you can use Schneider Electric’s new EvoPacT™ digital medium voltage circuit breakers and SureSeT™ medium voltage switchgear to make better decisions at the operational level to make your facility more environmentally friendly while increasing energy efficiency.

Compared to your legacy electrical distribution infrastructure, EvoPacT and SureSeT come with embedded digital sensors with scalable connectivity to identify energy waste in real-time, so you can take swift action to keep your sustainability efforts on track. You can also show your progress for reducing your facility’s carbon footprint with Schneider Electric’s PEP.

Visit the Schneider Electric website to learn more about how you can use EvoPacT and SureSeT to find new ways to increase facility sustainability.