New study shows banning use of greenhouse gas SF6 is an ‘easy win’ for the climate


A new study by research institute CE Delft has shown that it is cheaper to use alternative climate friendly technologies to SF6 in most switches in large electricity power lines. Following the release of the study, six environmental groups call for a ban on the extremely potent greenhouse gas Sulphur hexa Fluoride (SF6).

SF6 has almost 23,000 times the climate change impact of CO2. Once released into the atmosphere, SF6 exerts its climate impact over 3,000 years. The SF6 gas is mainly used in switches (switchgear) used in connections between large power lines. The new CE Delft study shows a ban of SF6 in certain types of Medium Voltage switchgear (MV is up to 50 kV) would not incur any costs, but would actually save money.

Natuur & Milieu, WWF, Greenpeace, CAN-Europe, EEB and EIA call on EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard to propose a ban on the use of SF6 and implement this “easy win” policy in the upcoming review of the F-gases regulation.

The man-made chemical SF6 has been on the market for about 30 years. SF6 is placed around medium and high voltage switchgear as an insulator gas, and to prevent electric arcs.
Alternative technologies (e.g. using vacuum; solid insulation) for the SF6-filled medium voltage switchgear are abundantly available.

Several uses of SF6 have already been banned under the existing EU regulation, including use in double glazing, in shoes and in tires.

The study is available from


Note to the Editor

Spokesperson on behalf of the NGO’s:
Ton Sledsens
Natuur & Milieu | The Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment
Direct line +31.30.2 348 258 | GSM: +31.6. 1449 3723 |Switchboard +31.30.233 13 28

Background information

Abatement cost of SF6 emissions from medium voltage switchgear.
Validation of recent studies for the European Commission.
Jos Benner, Marit van Lieshout & Harry Croezen, CE Delft, Delft, The Netherlands. May 2012

Briefing on SF6 by Natuur & Milieu:

For more info, please contact:


Policy Officer: Energy and Climate

Tel: +32 (0) 2 289 13 03