Sustainability as a key innovation driver in switchgear development

Across all industries, sustainability objectives are put in place to progressively increase the efficiency of operations, with ambitious targets set to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To meet the targets, all parts of the operations must contribute and carefully review all opportunities to reduce energy consumption.

It was never really considered as a realistic possibility that low-voltage switchgear designs could also contribute to these objectives. However, as switchgear generate heat, the electrical room requires conditioning to maintain the required ambient temperatures.

Take for example an eHouse (prefabricated substation), which houses low-voltage switchgear that runs 24/7. Maintaining the switchgear room temperature is key to the equipment performance, but also to ensure the guaranteed lifetime of all the components inside the switchgear. This requires a properly sized conditioning system to be installed, which in some locations might have to run every day of the year, every hour of the day. It is clear that the smaller the room is and the less heat the switchgear in it generates, less energy will be required for the conditioning systems.

ABB’s new switchgear NeoGear can significantly contribute to reducing the carbon footprint, simply thanks to the physical behaviour of laminated bus plate technology. Traditional busbar systems generate heat due to AC-losses caused by the skin-effect in the copper bars. The absence of these AC-losses in laminated technology reduces the overall switchgear heat contribution by up to 30 percent.

An additional contribution to more sustainable operations comes from a reduction in the energy required for room conditioning systems. The reduced heat contribution from NeoGear in an electrical room, in combination with smaller eHouses (less volume to cool), significantly reduces the amount of energy required for conditioning.

For mining customers, NeoGear provides the answer to many critical operational, performance and safety requirements.

Pain points for mining sector NeoGear solutions
Personnel safety Fully encapsulated busbar system eliminates hazardous exposure to live busbar parts; arc ignition protected zones increases safety for personnel handling live switchgear compartments
Downtime and unplanned maintenance Integrated data collection and data analysis with ABB Ability™ Condition Monitoring for electrical systems provides diagnostics, predictability and highest process availability through a simplified and robust platform
Future readiness Provides a complete and scalable solution for new projects and future upgrades. With its unique laminated busbar up to 3200A, you can easily upgrade without need for wholescale changes, reducing costs and avoiding shutdown
Complex design


90-95% reduction in number of parts for a busbar system and new module contact design allowing simplified engineering process and lesser design variants
Operational efficiencies Reduces the physical switchgear footprint by up to 25% for more efficient design of the electrical room; reduces overall operational costs by up to 30% through predictive maintenance, increasing uptime and performance
Carbon footprint targets Reduces heat dissipation to save cooling energy and lower cost for switchgear room conditioning
Compliance to new standards NeoGear is type-tested to the IEC 61439-1/-2 and IEC TR 61641 standards

Sustainable space utilisation 

Effective space utilisation for electrical equipment is a key driver in industries such as mining operations where space utilisation determines the optimum allocation of the available CAPEX budget.

Over the past decades, low-voltage switchgear has transformed from large fully open type of installations to today’s fully enclosed, compact, modular type. This progress came with significant improvements in safety and availability of the switchgear. However, the continuous effort to reduce switchgear footprint tended to come with a disadvantage: less space for electrical components, more difficult wiring and cable terminations and reduced rating. What may be visually perceived as available open module space in a switchgear line-up might not always be available, due to limits of thermal performance or maximum currents per section.

With the introduction of laminated bus plate technology, it has finally become possible to reduce footprint of switchgear, yet maintain the space needed for the equipment and still offer maximum rating. Equal performances were not possible without forced ventilation until the introduction of switchgear with laminated bus plate technology. Thanks to this innovative technology solution, the switchgear can be up to 25 percent shorter in length and yet still allow up to 30 percent higher maximum permissible watt loss per section – all while providing the same ease of access for cabling and termination.

Innovation breeds sustainability

ABB’s latest NeoGear technology enables improved safety, energy efficiency and overall sustainability. The laminated bus plate technology, which until now could only be found in aircraft, automobiles and space stations, helps customers across the mining sector, among others, keep work environments safe and meet increasing demands to reduce maintenance downtime and costs.

When creating new products, research and development teams can advocate and design products that minimise energy consumption. Technological innovations that lead to more energy efficient equipment translates into energy savings and a reduction in environmental impact to help us fight climate change. In all ways imaginable, companies in all industries must continue to push the boundaries to ensure smarter, more sustainable products and ways of working.

Download this whitepaper which introduces the laminated bus plate technology and its application in ABB’s newest low-voltage switchgear.

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