ABB wins the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Prize
By winning the coveted international award for sustainability and renewable energy, ABB has burnished its already glittering environmental credentials.
Gaining the prestigious accolade against big international rivals highlights our driving concerns with energy efficiency, sustainability and advanced technology, whether via breakthroughs in high-voltage direct current, electric vehicle charging or renewables and solar power.
It also enhances ABB’s credibility as one of the world’s foremost sources of tools to boost power and productivity. More than half of ABB’s sales in 2012 came from products and services that cut energy use, reduced environmental impact and emissions or worked in renewable energy applications.
But winning the widely recognized prize also showcases ABB’s interest and commitment to the Gulf region – and the Middle East and North Africa in general. The Gulf Co-operation Council alone – comprising six energy rich states in the Persian Gulf – will need an extra 80,000 megawatts of power a day by 2015 to satisfy population growth, manufacturing expansion, urbanization and ballooning wealth. No wonder ABB’s regional headquarters for India, the Middle East and Africa is in Dubai, alongside significant local operations in neighboring Abu Dhabi.
Demand for power in the broader Middle East and north Africa should also grow fast. Scorching summer heat means more than half of current electricity consumption goes on air conditioning. Water desalination is another big user. With populations still rising and more people flocking to cities, demand for air conditioning and clean water will spiral. While access to electricity in the region is generally high, large black spots, like rural areas of Yemen and Djibouti, remain. Moreover, an estimated 12 million people in the region still use what is politely called as “biomass” for cooking and heating – with all the health and environmental hazards entailed.
Traditional fossil fuels understandably dominate power generation at present. But interest in renewable is growing apace – not least solar. Countries in the region have already set broad environmental targets, suggesting demand for renewables will rise substantially. At $2.9 billion in 2012, investment in alternative energy sources was already almost 40 percent up on the previous year and six and a half times higher than in 2004. Among many ambitious projects, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar scheme for an entire “Green City” and Saudi Arabia’s planned King Abdullah Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy stand out.
ABB is on the spot. This month alone, we notched up $60m in orders for substations to boost transmission capacity and supply the King Abdullah Economic City – a massive project about 100 kilometers north of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s commercial hub. Other ABB Saudi projects include contracts to improve power supplies for the country’s planned high speed rail network and substations for a top university’s emission-free electric bus network.
Over in Cairo, early January brought an eye catching order for power and automation technologies for the new Grand Egyptian Museum, the showcase by the pyramids that will be the world’s biggest archaeological collection – and new home for King Tut – when it opens next year.
Dubai, typically, has produced a string of superlatives to showcase ABB’s energy efficiency abilities, including substations for the new metro – the Middle East’s first automated mass transportation system; improvements to electrical reliability at Dubai airport – now the world’s fourth busiest; and even the world’s highest substation inside the landmark Burj Khalifa – (inevitably) the world’s tallest building.
But such high profile business is just icing on the cake. Much of the work has been on the harder side of explaining the value of energy efficiency and renewables to customers – as, for example, at this month’s two day conference in Oman, where ABB and Ventyx – an ABB company – raised awareness about opportunities now available through new technologies, whether hardware or the more efficient use of data. Winning the Zayed Future Energy Prize should make the task just that little bit easier.