PROJECTS: Hitachi ABB Power Grids lights up new opportunities in ME

JV focuses on industries, mobility, infotech and transmission and distribution markets

Dubai electricity. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Dubai electricity. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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Hitachi's digital capability and portfolio combined with ABB's world-class power technologies would provide the Hitachi ABB Power Grids with multiple opportunities for growth and market development, the joint venture's (JV) Managing Director for the GCC, Near East and Pakistan has said.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids formally commenced operations at the start of July following the completion of procedures for the Hitachi's 80.1 percent stake acquisition in ABB's power grid business. The balance is held by ABB.

Mostafa AlGuezeri told Zawya Projects that the JV would focus on opportunities in emerging areas like industry, mobility and Information Technology (IT) in addition to the core traditional transmission and distribution (T&D) markets.

He said: "Synergies and access to new and growing markets provided by Hitachi will help take power grids to the next stage, further strengthening its leading position. Our business serves utility, industry and infrastructure customers across the value chain, and emerging areas like sustainable mobility, smart cities, energy storage and data centres."

He pointed out that the new company would leverage portfolio complementarity and front-end synergies between Hitachi and ABB in areas like railways, electric vehicles and renewables, broaden the service portfolio and open access to new markets and geographies as well as financing opportunities for large infrastructure projects.

"By combining our respective technology strengths will bring us new market opportunities and enable us to deliver greater customer value," he emphasised.

"Technology and innovation are key differentiators and we employ more than 2,000 engineers and scientists in Research & Development - with a significant number engaged in software related development."

Mostafa AlGuezeri, Managing Director for the GCC, Near East and Pakistan of Hitachi ABB Power Grids

A $10 billion business

The Switzerland-headquartered JV also brings with it a business volume of around $10 billion, and a global employee strength of 36,000 people in around 90 countries.

"The $10 billion figure is based on the reported annual revenues for fiscal years 2017-2019 for ABB's Power Grids Division," explained AlGuezeri.

He said the JV is organised across four business units: grid automation, grid integration, transformers and high voltage products.

In the Middle East, the company enjoys a strong market presence in the areas of T&D, utilities, industries, infrastructure, smart cities, mobility, and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) customers, the Hitachi ABB Power Grids executive said. 

Key reference projects in the region include the upgrade of the control system to manage Dubai International Airport's growing power network; powering the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa; substations for the 5,000-megawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, and more recently, a digital substation solution for the Abu Dhabi Transmission and Despatch Company.

In the Middle East, AlGuezeri said, the JV would pursue opportunities in markets ranging from intelligent grids and smart cities to integration of large-scale renewables into the grid and grid interconnections.

"We [will] focus on transforming the power system into a more flexible, resilient, cross border infrastructure, that's more responsive to dynamic changes in demand," he said.

Other opportunities include sustainable energy solutions for social projects to stimulate economic activity amid COVID-19 and also contribute to climate change targets; plan-build-operate innovative solutions with customers and partners by leveraging energy platforms, and enabling cleaner, greener smart cities, particularly in transport electrification and e-mobility.  

Dealing with energy transition

Noting that the world's energy markets are going through an unprecedented transformation needed to realise energy transition, AlGuezeri went on to summarise some key elements of this transition:

"While many countries have made great strides in the adoption of renewables, they now need to manage a more dynamic system, requiring increased flexibility and resilience to achieve a sustainable outcome. Many more interconnections would be required to maximise the penetration of renewables in the energy market."

"The rapid rise in distributed power generation and changes in consumption patterns, for example, the emergence of prosumers, are part of this changing energy landscape. Furthermore, the growth of electric vehicles and expansion of the world's data centres has ramped up electricity demand."

"Markets related to digital utilities, such as predictive maintenance, distributed power supply and asset optimisation are expected to grow strongly."

Hitachi ABB Power Grids is "uniquely positioned" to serve its customers deal with the challenges of energy transition, said AlGuezeri.

"By leveraging capabilities in digital and energy platforms and with a focus on intelligent grids, we enable customers to increase resilience and efficiency, and unlock new business models," he said.

Overcoming Covid-19

He acknowledged that in some places, customer projects have been delayed due to Covid-19 while noting that the company has prioritised "protecting people, ensuring business continuity and preparing for the new normal" in order to address the pandemic and its challenges.

He continued: "It is still early to assess mid to longer-term impact [of the pandemic], which will also depend on how long before confidence returns, and economies rebound. However, our fundamental market drivers remain intact with the growing need for sustainable energy."

"One thing remains constant and that is societal progress [which] depends upon a reliable source of electricity to fuel development and we see opportunities for a green recovery," he concluded.

(Reporting by Anoop Menon; Editing by Bhaskar Raj)


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