Big shifts in power and automation
ABB’s future business prospects are promising, thanks to big shifts taking place in the electricity value chain and industrial automation. The rise of the emerging economies is also a tremendous opportunity; in Africa and India alone, nearly one billion people are waiting for access to electricity.
The shifting electricity value chain
The electricity supply is undergoing seismic changes, as the power-generation mix shifts towards renewables and more feed-in nodes increase the complexity of the grid. By 2035, renewables are expected to account for 40 percent of new power generation, meaning electricity will have to be transported over longer distances and at higher voltages, an excellent opportunity for ABB, which is a world leader in high-voltage direct current transmission (see Utilities).
Renewables are also making stand-alone grids possible for remote, off-grid communities. Currently, these must be equipped with back-up (diesel) generators to cope with intermittent supply, but innovations in power storage technology, another key focus of ABB, promise to dramatically expand the application of these micro-grids.
A new era in industrial automation
Thanks to the internet, the world is on the cusp of a new revolution in digital technology. Developments in communications technology, processing power and new sensors are allowing us to collect and process more information than ever before. This is already making it possible for ABB to remotely control offshore oil and gas platforms – meaning human operators no longer have to spend long periods out at sea – and to direct service operations for thousands of robots around the world from a single location.
The next step will be the optimization of industry: from a central control center and using algorithmic reasoning, we will be able to help our customers get more out of their devices and maximize the performance of their plants and machinery. With our mastery of big data, human-friendly robots and remote servicing, a new era in industrial automation is just around the corner.
In terms of markets, ABB is very well positioned in emerging economies, which are expected to account for two-thirds of global GDP growth in the next five years. With our broad geographical footprint and highly diverse workforce, we are embedded in or close to the most promising growth markets; combined, Asia, the Middle East and Africa already account for a larger share of our revenues than either Europe or the Americas.