Innovation and collaboration, the key to a sustainable future

Tomorrow’s power grids face big challenges, as renewables replace fossil fuels. Innovation and collaboration will play a key role.

To keep the sustainable society of tomorrow moving, electric power grids around the world will need to evolve to manage and deliver energy that increasingly will come from renewable sources. As the global population grows, and becomes more urban, we must find ways to supply more electricity while achieving massive decarbonization. So instead of electricity being steadily generated at large fossil-fuel-based power plants, it will increasingly come from variable and dispersed renewable sources like wind and solar power.

Foto: Charlotte Carlberg Bärg

The energy transition will change the power grids landscape into an electronically controlled and protected power grid. The shift demands improvements in power transmission and distribution capacity, as well as controllability and power quality, to increase the efficiency and integration of renewable energy, both centralized and distributed. Likewise, the drive for CO2 reduction will increase the overall demand, such as for transportation infrastructure, which puts additional strains on the existing distribution system and the supply/demand balance.

At the same time, power grids are facing unprecedented challenges due to distributed generation, system dynamics, load pattern changes and ageing infrastructure. One of the main challenges is to maintain a reliable grid with maximum availability to the customers, where monitoring and diagnostics on equipment and system levels play a vital role. The recent advancement in the digitalization of the grid infrastructure enables building unique functionalities and breakthrough technologies to improve the flexibility and reliability of future power girds.

Leading the world in electrical technology
ABB Power Grids is a world leader in the field of electric power, and has significant production, research and development operations in Sweden. To be well prepared to not only follow these shifting requirements but to truly provide dynamic leadership in electrical technology, ABB Power Grids invests millions of US dollars in its research each year, with the goal to make the world’s power grids sustainable for generations to come. Achieving this goal will be a key piece in the complex energy puzzle that aims to simultaneously reduce emissions and global warming and, at the same time, increase electrical energy distribution efficiency.

What do we do about it?
Power Grids Research is a global organization with around 200 highly qualified scientists and engineers located in six research centers around the world. The mission is to find commercially viable solutions to hard technical problems posed to us by our business units and customers; attract and train promising talent; and be an essential part of the ABB Power Grids innovation value chain.

Foto: Jonas Bilberg

At our Research center in Västerås, Sweden, we have broad competence in materials, multi-physics, insulation technology, power electronics, power systems and digital technologies, allowing us to apply interdisciplinary knowledge to invent and design the power system of the future. To make sure we stay on top in these areas we have an international team of 60 people and extensive world class electrical laboratories in order to test and demonstrate new technologies and concepts before implementation in real-world applications.

Continuous development of our technologies is an absolute prerequisite for enabling future sustainable fossil-free energy systems. We must continue to explore the challenges of increasing global demand, type of generation, and increased stability and availability of future grids.

University collaboration plays a key role in innovation
To continue to lead and be a partner of choice for enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid, we are always looking for talented people to work with, as well as for new and deeper areas for collaboration with academia. We already have strong relations with many universities and research institutes in Sweden, as well as in many other countries, and are continuously working to broaden our collaboration with academia. The reason is simple: Collaboration and interaction with these institutions provides us with very fertile ground for developing future talent, as well as for scouting new technologies to maintain our position as the world leader in power grids.

Join our journey towards sustainable power
We are, and will continue to be, the innovation leader in the critical area of power grids engineering to keep the world moving, smoothly and sustainably. Our aim is to discover and develop the key power grid innovations which will support our sustainable future, clearly based more on renewable sources.

To join us on this exciting journey, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are not only mapping the future energy landscape; we are creating it.

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About the author

Alireza Nami

Alireza is Research Center Manager at Power Grids Research in Sweden. He has worked within the electrical field since 2007 and has a PhD from Queensland University of Technology. Alireza moved to Sweden in 2011 and has also lived and worked in Australia, Japan and Iran. He is passionate about innovation and dedicated to create a sustainable society for the generations to come by enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.
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