As the world’s leading electrical power and automation technology group, ABB is in a powerful position to influence climate change. It operates in more than 100 countries and supplies, for example, motors and frequency converters for industry, wind turbine generators and electrical power systems. The fact that energy efficiency is the thread that runs through all of ABB’s planning makes the company a strong fighter against climate change.
“Our crown jewels in this are our frequency converters, which were developed in Vaasa and which reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 340 million tonnes in 2014 worldwide. The energy they saved corresponds to the consumption of 110 million residences,” says Juha Muhonen, ABB Finland’s Sales Director in Rail and Wind.
ABB’s technologies support energy production that is based on renewable energy sources, which the EU aims to increase to 50% by 2050. Already wind, biomass, solar and hydropower are growing rapidly and replacing coal more and more. Energy is mainly still produced in large units, and the cash flow runs from the consumer to the producer. However, decentralised energy production will change this pattern: when a lot of the energy in a network is supplied by small producers, both energy and cash flows will run in both directions.
“ABB has a great solution for this and it is smart grids. Fluctuating demand requires smart electric current to ensure a stable energy supply,” Muhonen explains.
ABB is currently developing solutions for storing the extra electricity obtained from renewable energy sources; it is working on electric banks of accumulators for various needs. It has made the most progress with charging devices for electric cars and buses.
“For marine use, we have a hybrid ship in the pipeline that could carry batteries along at sea. The ship would be charged with shore-side electricity in the port, which would reduce its noise pollution and emissions,” says Muhonen.
In Finland, for example, one fifth of all the energy consumed is expended by transport of all kinds. Fortunately, ABB’s solutions can help to make transport more environmentally friendly.
“ABB’s Azipod® electric propulsion and energy management system, for example, reduces a vessel’s energy consumption by up to 20% and cuts carbon dioxide emissions significantly,” Muhonen says. The energy consumption of trains can also be cut by up to 30% when their braking energy is converted into electricity to be utilised by the train.
Muhonen believes that it is possible to replace practically all the internal combustion engines in the world with electric motors. The consumption of electricity by industrial electric motors worldwide, currently 28%, could also be reduced significantly. Furthermore, there is enough renewable energy available to be utilised multifold, if increasing its use was not so slow. In Muhonen’s view, the crucial point is the development of battery technology, which will further advance a sustainable world.
“We must conserve some natural resources for future generations. Because nations are procreating at a fast rate, we have to follow the principles of sustainable development when designing and planning products and solutions. We have done well, but there is still a lot of work to be continued. I am particularly gratified that our customers really appreciate our efforts.”
Business sector: Power and automation technology
Turnover: €2.3 billion
Major markets: Worldwide