Power Grids Division
The Power Grids division is a global leader in power and automation technologies that help balance the growing need for electricity with minimum environmental impact, by enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid. The Power Grids division provides electrical and automation product, system, software and service solutions across the power value chain. These solutions support utility, industry and transport & infrastructure customers to plan, build, operate and maintain their power infrastructure. They are designed to facilitate the safe, reliable and efficient integration, transmission and distribution of bulk and distributed energy generated from conventional and renewable sources.
Around three quarters of the division’s revenues come from utility customers but a significant portion is generated from industrial and transport & infrastructure customers. Power Grids has a worldwide customer base, with a wide spread of revenues from a regional perspective across the Americas, Europe and AMEA. The division also has a globally diversified and well balanced manufacturing and engineering footprint. Direct sales account for a significant part of the division’s total revenues and external channel partners such as wholesalers, distributors and OEMs account for the rest.
The division had approximately 37,000 employees as of December 31, 2016, and generated $11.0 billion of revenues in 2016.
The Power Grids division’s principal customers include utilities, transmission and distribution owners and operators as well as industrial, transportation and infrastructure customers.
Products and Services
The businesses of the Power Grids division are more fully described below.
The Grid Systems business is the world’s largest provider of HVDC systems. These systems use Line Commutated Converter (HVDC Classic) technology or Voltage Sourced Converter (HVDC Light) technology. The portfolio also encompassed high-voltage AC and DC cables, mainly used for subsea or underground applications and HVDC links. It also includes a range of high power semi-conductors, a core technology for power electronics deployed in HVDC, Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS) and rail applications.
The Grid Integration business is one of the world’s leading providers of transmission and distribution substations and associated life-cycle services. The substations are provided either as engineered solutions (system integration) or on a turnkey, engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) basis, for utility and non-utility applications including renewables, rail, data-centers, industry, battery energy storage and shore-to-ship power supply. This business is also the leading global provider of FACTS, which includes Static Var Compensation (SVC) and static compensator (STATCOM) technology. These systems stabilize voltages, minimize losses, and keep power quality in accordance with grid codes.
The Transformers business supplies transformers that are an integral component found across the power value chain, enabling the efficient and safe conversion of electricity to different voltages. ABB is the world’s largest maker of transformers. The product range is designed for reliability, durability and efficiency with a portfolio that includes power transformers, dry- and liquid-distribution transformers, traction transformers for rail applications, and special application transformers and related components such as insulation kits, bushings and other transformer accessories. In addition, ABB’s power transformers are pushing the voltage barrier to unprecedented levels of 1100 kV DC and 1200 kV AC, facilitating more power to be transported longer distances with minimum losses. Other technology developments include grid-resilient transformers designed to withstand physical attack, eco-efficient transformers using biodegradable oil and innovative sensor-based as well as software-leveraging solutions for remote maintenance and asset optimization.
The High Voltage products business is a global leader in high-voltage switchgear with a portfolio spanning air-insulated, gas-insulated and hybrid technologies. It also manufactures generator circuit breakers, a key product for integrating large power plants into the grid. The portfolio also includes a broad range of capacitors and filters that facilitate power quality as well as instrument transformers and other substation components.
The Grid Automation business is at the forefront of grid automation and digitalization. It supplies substation automation products, systems and services. It also provides Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems for transmission and distribution networks as well as a range of wireless, fiber optic and power line carrier based telecommunication technologies for mission critical applications. This business also offers microgrid solutions that are being increasingly deployed for remote and partially grid connected applications. Also included in this business is the enterprise software portfolio – a provider of an industry-leading suite of software solutions that help utilities and other asset-intensive industries (e.g. rail, mining) manage, maintain and optimize their assets.
The division also provides services which represent an increasing part of each business and which are a growing focus area for the division with its significant installed product base. The portfolio of services offered includes spare parts, installation, commissioning, condition monitoring and maintenance services, on- and off-site repairs as well as retrofits and upgrades. Increasingly more advanced software-based monitoring and advisory services are being added to the portfolio to support the development of the digitalization of the grids.
On a global basis, the Power Grids division faces worldwide competition across its portfolio mainly from Siemens and General Electric (GE Alstom). It also competes in specific geographies and in parts of the business with companies such as Hyundai, Hyosung, Crompton Greaves, TBEA and NARI. The breadth of its portfolio, technology and innovation, a global footprint and a vast installed base enable the division to maintain its leading position in the power sector.
The Power Grids division’s capital expenditures for property, plant and equipment totaled $203 million in 2016, compared to $191 million and $242 million in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Principal investments in 2016 were related to capacity expansion as well as the replacement of existing equipment, particularly in Sweden, the U.S. and Switzerland. Geographically, in 2016, Europe represented 68 percent of the capital expenditures, followed by the Americas (19 percent) and AMEA (13 percent).