Earth Day 2021

Gas Circuit Breakers vs Oil Circuit Breakers Footprint
Apr 22, 2021

On this Earth Day, we wanted to share how Alpha 3 is contributing to a more sustainable approach to electric utilities. When most of the general public hears the term “sustainability” as it relates to electricity, they often think the way to achieve it is by solar panels, wind turbines, etc. While strides are being taken to implement such visible processes, it is the behind-the-scenes steps that are having a more immediate and longer lasting effect. Replacing a small amount of generation with solar power is of course helpful but replacing a large amount of aging equipment with 25% more efficient equipment is much more impactful.

Numerous utility providers throughout the US are committed to aggressively reducing carbon emissions. Alpha 3 works with one such electric utility provider in many of their electrical substations and we are actively implementing replacement projects to aid in achieving their corporate goal. A prime example of this is replacing OCBs (Oil Circuit Breakers) with GCBs (Gas Circuit Breakers). Now, the general public may hear this and think, “isn’t replacing oil for gas just as detrimental to the environment?”, but that thought process is as outdated as the circuits Alpha 3 is replacing.

Gas insulated circuit breakers overall have longer life spans than OCBs and require less maintenance. Every time a circuit breaker needs maintenance, greenhouse gasses are emitted. Therefore, reduction in maintenance equals reduction of harmful gasses. Oil insulated circuit breakers are more volatile by nature and have a much greater risk of fire and explosions. The oil decomposes as it is insulating and therefore requires more maintenance and replacement parts. More maintenance means more downtime of the unit which means less efficient electricity to the end consumer – not to mention more greenhouse gasses being released. GCBs also have a smaller physical footprint, so not only are they more efficient, but they also take up less land.  

Alpha 3 is committed to not only the utility providers, but to the end customer. We know the work of our skilled engineers replacing outdated equpiment is positively contributing to a more energy efficient world. Sustainability is not as easy as flipping a switch but if we all do our small part, overtime our planet will be better off for it.