World's Most Powerful Greenhouse Gas on the Rise Due to Green Energy Boom
September 16, 2019 - The most powerful known greenhouse gas has been leaking into the Earth's atmosphere due to the green energy boom, it was reported on Friday night.
Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents.
It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2), and just one kilogram warms the Earth as much as 24 people flying London to New York return.
The drive to use mixed sources of power, including wind, solar and gas, rather than coal as fuel has resulted in a rise in the number of electrical devices that use SF6, the BBC said.
A study from the University of Cardiff found that across all transmission and distribution networks, the amount used was increasing by 30-40 tonnes per year.
Emissions of the gas in the UK and the rest of the EU in 2017 were the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3million cars on the road.
"As renewable projects are getting bigger and bigger, we have had to use it within wind turbines specifically," Costa Pirgousis, an engineer with Scottish Power Renewables, told the BBC.
"As we are putting in more and more turbines, we need more and more switchgear and, as a result, more SF6 is being introduced into big turbines off shore.
"It's been proven for years and we know how it works, and as a result it is very reliable and very low maintenance for us offshore."
In the UK, Ofgem, the energy regulator, says it is working with companies to try to limit leaks of the gas.
"We are using a range of tools to make sure that companies limit their use of SF6, a potent greenhouse gas, where this is in the interest of energy consumers," an Ofgem spokesperson told BBC News.