Optimise the Lifespan of your Installed Switchgear

Ageing switchgear: retrofit, refurbish or replace?

Your challenge: The asset management of ageing switchgear equipment is not a new subject, but one that continues to be a thorny issue for both utility companies and industry alike. Both have large installed bases of high voltage (HV) and medium voltage (MV) switchgear; much of it installed between the 1950s and 1970s, which must somehow be brought into the 21st century to ensure optimum network performance and longevity. Siemens estimates that there is still around a quarter of a million Reyrolle – now Siemens – circuit breakers in service worldwide, which could be anything up to 50+ years old. However, economic uncertainties and capital expenditure restrictions have made users increasingly cautious about automatically opting for replacement.   Our solution: With such constraints, more users are seeking to extend the life of their switchgear equipment where feasible. Users have three choices: overhaul and refurbish existing equipment;  retrofit and upgrade the equipment; replace with new equipment.   Siemens offers reliable, sustainable life-extension programmes to keep your switchgear safely in operation – alongside affordable, market-leading replacement options if that is the right decision. We can also provide strategic, critical and commodity spare parts for your installed switchgear, technically evaluated and recommended by our switchgear experts.   Benefit: Where the underlying condition of the existing switchgear panels is good and there is the potential to safely and economically extend their life, then retrofit or refurbishment are viable options. They can restore your equipment to its original condition and performance – and even enhance its ratings dependent on the equipment involved.


Manage your budget

A typical retrofit involves the replacement of old circuit breakers and switches with modern vacuum circuit breakers. This option is particularly attractive where there is a lot of ageing equipment and where asset replacement budgets are limited.


Keep your assets up and running

Refurbishment restores the equipment to its original condition and performance specification. It can actually enhance ratings or performance, dependent on the equipment involved – and can also offer considerable cost savings


Benefit from the very latest technology

Siemens not only offers the world-leading technology with competitive pricing, but innovative financing options, too. We can help you prepare a sound business case – often revealing a lower total cost of ownership than anticipated.

On the road to RIIO … Mark 2

Transmission and distribution network operators, operating under Ofgem’s updated ‘RIIO’ (Revenue = Incentives + Innovation + Outputs) price control regime, are renewing their focus on the issue of what to do with ageing switchgear.

The current controls for gas & electricity transmission and distribution will end by 2023, when both will be replaced by a new ‘RIIO 2’ regime.  Like the current system, RIIO 2 will continue to encourage investment to ensure continued safe, reliable services; innovation to reduce network costs; and ongoing efforts to deliver a low carbon economy. Siemens can do a lot to help operators achieve these objectives.

An extended lifespan

An extended lifespan

Although replacement with a new model is always an option (and we can offer world-leading technology if that is your choice), it isn’t necessarily the only way to go.

Your decision will naturally be influenced strongly by many considerations: not just cost, but safety, reliability, commercial and environmental factors too – as well as the time scales involved, especially if the decision is to replace rather than repair or refurbish.

From a reliability perspective, the performance of decades-old equipment may fall well short of present-day requirements, especially on older developing or expanding networks, or where additional generation has been installed. This is particularly relevant where significant quantities of renewable, distributed generation are now being connected to the networks.

Health and safety
This is particularly important when considering switchgear that may have suffered from poor maintenance or deteriorated insulation and may be in a dangerous condition – or which depends upon manual operation, especially when reliant on the speed and actions of the operator. Other considerations include:

  • system fault levels that now exceed the rating of the switchgear
  • manual operation switchgear on older design which is dependent on an operator directly in front of the device
  • oil-insulated switchgear, which has an inherent risk of fire and explosion.

Environmental considerations are varied: such as whether to extend the life of older oil-insulated switchgear with a full refurbishment, retrofit existing oil circuit breakers with a modern vacuum alternative - or whether installing state-of-the-art gas-insulated replacements makes more sense. Continued use of older equipment prevents the need for the disposal of scrap, which could be contaminated; whereas removal of oil from the substation could prevent the need to install costly fire suppression systems: there are pros and cons from every angle!

So, how effectively do the available options address these concerns? Below we explore the three options – retrofit, refurbish or replace – in more detail.

Find out more about our HV and MV switchgear ranges here:

Siemens Audit For Energy (SAFE) Assessment

Do you operate vintage Reyrolle LMT or C-Gear circuit breaker panels?

As the owner of the former REYROLLE business, we at Siemens know that some of our customers have C-Gear and/or LMT switchgear installed – some of which dates back to the 1930s.

We understand that maintaining the integrity of your substations is a priority. Therefore, we would like to help you support your ongoing maintenance programme with the Siemens Audit For Energy (SAFE) Assessment on your installed base of LMT and C-Gear equipment.

Our SAFE Assessment can provide you with a condition and risk based strategy, identifying areas which, with the correct action, may reduce your overall costs as well as addressing potential health, safety and environmental concerns.

Find out whether we can help you with a SAFE Assessment

Enquire now


DNO savings – a case study

When a DNO needed to develop a retrofit, refurbishment and replacement programme to extend the serviceable life of its assets, Siemens worked with them to develop the strategy and comply with RIIO ED1: 2015-2023.

Find out more about our products and services

Customer Services UK

Reyrolle switchgear, condition monitoring and project solutions


Get in touch with our Customer Service

From our UK-based offices in Hebburn, you can contact us by email at: csukenquiries.energy@siemens.com; or call us on +44 (0)191 401 5555.   We look forward to your call or online contact.