The gas-insulated transmission line (GIL) is a system for the transmission of electricity at high power ratings over long distances. In cases where overhead lines are not possible, the GIL is a viable technical solution to bring the power transmitted by an overhead line underground without a reduction of power transmission capacity.
As a gas-insulated system, the GIL has the advantage of electrical behavior similar to that of an overhead line, which is important to the operation of the complete network. Because of the large cross section of the conductor, the GIL has low electrical losses compared with other transmission systems (overhead lines and cables). This reduces the operating and transmission costs, and it contributes to reduction of global warming because less power needs to be generated.
Safety of personnel in the vicinity of a GIL is very high because the solid metallic enclosure provides reliable protection. Even in the rare case of an internal failure, the metallic enclosure is strong enough to withstand damage.
This allows the use of GILs in street and railway tunnels and under bridges with public traffic. No flammable materials are used to build a GIL. The use of GILs in traffic tunnels makes the tunnels more economical and can solve some environmental problems. If GIL is added to a traffic tunnel, the cost can be shared between the electric power supply company and the owner of the traffic part (train, vehicles).
The environmental advantage is that no additional overhead line needs to be built parallel to the tunnel. Because of the low capacitive load of the GIL, long lengths of 100 km and more can be built.
Where overhead lines are not suitable due to environmental factors or where they would spoil a particular landscape, the GIL is a viable alternative because it is invisible and does not disturb the landscape. The GIL consists of three single-phase encapsulated aluminum tubes that can be directly buried in the ground or laid in a tunnel. The outer aluminum enclosure is at ground potential.
The interior, the annular space between the conductor pipe and the enclosure, is filled with a mixture of gas, mainly nitrogen (80%) with some SF6 (20%) to provide electrical insulation. A reverse current, more than 99% of the conductor current value, is induced in the enclosure. Because of this reverse current, the outer magnetic field is very low.
GIL combines reliability with high transmission capacity, low losses, and low emission of magnetic fields. Because it is laid in the ground, GIL also satisfies the requirements for power transmission lines without any visual impact on the environment or the landscape. Of course, the system can also be used to supply power to meet the high energy demands of conurbations and their surroundings.
The directly buried GIL combines the advantage of underground laying with a transmission capacity equivalent to that of an overhead power line.