Thoroughly modern

Entering a new decade is always a good time to reflect on the technological advances made over the past years.

As we enter the roaring ‘20’s, the recent speed of progress has been incredible. The ‘Teenies’ saw amazing tech discoveries that have become mainstay for making our lives easier and more environmentally friendly.

In particular, significant progress has been made in the development and growth of infrastructure making it more convenient to own and run electric vehicles.

ABB has been at the forefront in fostering this trend. Last year, the total number of our DC fast chargers installed to date reached over 13,000, and we are present in 77 countries. That makes us number one globally in this market. As technology leaders, our 350 KW fast charging stations can charge a vehicle for a 200km journey in just 8 minutes, making driving electric a more attractive proposition.

2019 saw the launch of a series of important breakthroughs in ‘behind-the-scenes’ technology that improve safety and sustainability in electrification. We had the biggest innovation in the industry for over 40 years with the introduction of NeoGear. This new switchgear is more compact. It increases safety and improves energy efficiency by 25%. It also has up to 20% lower heat loss and up to 30% reduced operational cost using digitally-based condition monitoring and diagnostics.

We have also reinvented the humble circuit breaker. Announced at the Hannover Messe in Germany last year, our new solid-state circuit breaker strengthens the weakest link in next-generation electricity infrastructure. This breakthrough circuit breaker technology can better meet the demands of renewables, the electrification of transport and modern edge grids. For example, the new technology delivers 70 percent lower power losses than comparable solutions, enabling savings of up to US$200,000 in a ferry and up to US$1 million in a cruise liner over a ten-year period.

Given the pace and scale of change, it is sometimes difficult to fully grasp the realities of the era we are living in and the technology at our disposal. Half the world’s population now live in towns and cities, which are at the forefront of several global challenges. Cities account for 65% of global energy demand and are responsible for 75% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

To help customers and society keep up with what is already available for safer, smarter and more sustainable living, we developed an online desktop tool in 2019. Our ‘Smart City’ can be accessed via abbsmartcities.com. It breaks down the collective technical elements of smart buildings, e-mobility, energy management and data centers, all of which can contribute to the design of a comprehensive ‘smart city’.

In 2020, we look forward to seeing our online Smart City grow as we introduce new products, solutions and services.

Imagine what it will look like in ten years’ time!

Mega trends such as urbanisation, digitalisation, and the increasing demand for electricity are dictating the shape of things to come. We will continue to help our customers and society address the challenges of future energy requirements and support businesses in driving up profits and driving down harmful impacts on the environment.

In 2019, we unveiled ABB’s Mission to Zero, a real-life example of how the energy transition can succeed sustainably through digital energy management. At our flagship Busch-Jaeger subsidiary in Luedenscheid, Germany, we proved how digital energy management can achieve real results in reducing carbon emission. After a two-year design and construction phase, we launched our first carbon neutral and energy self-sufficient production site in the world.

Our Mission to Zero goes beyond just one site, and in 2020 I look forward to sharing more news of developments, inventions, products, solutions and services that will allow us, our customers and society to reduce carbon emissions further.

2020 is a year of change, when Mission to Zero becomes a mission for us all.

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About the author

Amina Hamidi

Amina Hamidi joined ABB in 1998 as a Research Scientist and Project Manager and has held a number of positions with increasing responsibility both in R&D and on the business side up until August 2017, when she was appointed Chief Technology Officer for the Electrification business of ABB. Now she leads a team of scientists and engineers focusing on both customer needs-driven and technology disruption-oriented R&D. She has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the French National Research Institute for Transportation Systems (INRETS).
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