The term CO2 is probably most present one in discussions and reports on greenhouse gases. Less frequently, compounds such as methane or nitrous oxide fall. However, only those who are more intensively involved with the subject have come across the family of fluorinated greenhouse gases. Unlike the classic greenhouse gases, the so-called F-gases are not released as unwanted by-products (e.g. during the combustion of fossil raw materials), but are produced specifically. According to the Umwelt Bundesamt, their effect on the ozone layer is up to 100 to 24.000 times higher than that of carbon dioxide. Our Startup of the Week, nuventura, rightly sees a need for action there and is therefore developing a technology that works without SF6. CEO Fabian Lemke explains more about the background in the interview.
Hey, Fabian. Thank you so much for taking the time for us! Would you give us a short pitch for the beginning?
nuventura empowers a safer and more efficient energy grid free from SF6 – the most potent greenhouse gas in existence.
An energy network contains a large number of components. Where does your solution start?
nuventura has invented a new revolutionary switchgear – essential component of any electricity grid – that is free from greenhouse gases and outperforms the existing industry standard.
Existing gas insulated switchgear (GIS) are based on SF6 – the most potent greenhouse gas humanity knows. It is 23,500 times worse than CO2 in terms of its global warming effect. It is a synthetic gas for which neither a natural sink exists, nor an effective disposal method is at hand, making its accumulation in the atmosphere virtually irreversible. On top of this, the gas is extremely long-lived: SF6’s atmospheric lifetime is 3,200 years, which is well beyond CO2‘s 100-200- year lifetime.
The available data shows that every year approx. 8000t of SF6 are emitted into the atmosphere (equivalent of 188,000,000t of CO2). 80% of all the SF6 produced is used inside gas insulated switchgear. nuventura has developed a GIS that instead of SF6 simply uses the air we all breathe, in such a way eliminating the usage of this highly potent greenhouse gas.
That sounds very promising. Are there additional advantages associated with your switchgear?
The technology does not only have the potential to trigger a greenhouse gas emission reduction equivalent to 100 million cars, but it also significantly improves the performance of the switchgear. It enables, for the first time, integrated type tested sensor system. The technology paves the way for industry 4.0 applications, such as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance or dynamic adjustments of maximum acceptable loads. Its innovative design reduces total cost of ownership due to the enabled benefits and extended lifetime. It, furthermore, allows for competitive production and operation by simplifying the manufacturing process and removing the need for gas handling and expensive manufacturing processes common in SF6-based designs.
What is the distribution of your development like?
We license our technology to manufacturers, functioning as an R&D centre for them. We also collaborate with the end users of our technology (DSOs and industry) to ensure that nuventura’s switchgear is designed to their needs.
You have just mentioned the industrial sector as a potential market. How big is the total market you are moving in?
In total, our technology addresses a market of € 11.1 Bn that will continue to grow with a 10 % CAGR to become a € 23.1 Bn market by 2024. Our target clients are the global community of switchgear manufacturers and our product is suited for global use.
That’s really great potential. What have you already done to open up this market?
Nuventura has recently closed its seed investment round including E.ON, VC Fonds Technologie Berlin managed by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH, Apex Energy Teterow and existing investors. After the investment, several grants, loans and national and international innovation prizes won, nuventura now has a substantial 7-digit EUR amount at hand to realize its upcoming goals and milestones. Our focus now is to continue certifying our sustainable, patented technology for gas insulated switchgear for commercial application in the medium voltage range and to enter the market for switchgear technologies as a technology licensing company. We are currently carrying out a pilot project with the German utility company, Westnetz/Innogy and are in preparation for another pilot with E.ON’s network operator E.DIS has that is to be launched in autumn this year.