Business Today|April 18, 2021
The Switzerland-headquartered Hitachi ABB Power Grids is a global technology player serving utility, industry and infrastructure companies in emerging areas such as sustainable mobility, smart cities, energy storage and data centres. The $10 billion company started operations in India in July 2020 after Hitachi's acquisition of ABB Ltd’s powergrid business in 2018. Global CEO of Hitachi ABB Power Grids, Claudio Facchin, and N. Venu, Managing Director, Hitachi ABB Power Grids India, talk to Rajeev Dubey and P.B. Jayakumar about technological changes in the power sector and how they are helping countries meet their zero carbon targets. Edited excerpts
Rajeev Dubey and P.B. Jayakumar

How has life changed for companies as countries move towards renewables and fossil fuel prices rise again?

Claudio: If we set aside for a moment the hike in fossil fuel prices, the pandemic and the crisis we are managing, we had invested in this transformation a few years ago. Our partners, customers and other stakeholders in this industry are going through a tremendous transformation, driven by rising penetration of renewables. Certainly, the drive is stronger now than a few years ago, thanks to the need for de-carbonising. Electrification is becoming more and more the centre-piece of this transition. We saw it coming a few years back. Increase in share of renewables and enabling technologies will make electricity the main source of energy. We will need more efficient ways to distribute electricity.

At the same time, the electrification drive and new ways of generating energy have brought new generation and consumption players. Of course, we have to play a key role as a global leader, from making sure that our technology enables integration of renewables to ensuring the best use of that electricity. For example, prolification of electrical vehicles is a big change. Same is the case with data centres. Going forward, every country, including India, is going to invest in building its own capacity in data centres, servers and associated digitalisation with IoT and so on.

We need to leverage technology to make sure that power generation, transmission, distribution and consumption are optimised and made even more resilient and stable. The pandemic has accelerated technology adoption. We do not see, nor do we expect, any change in the course of this transformation. The main trajectory is set and more and more countries are committing to carbon neutrality. Electricity is the backbone of these de-carbonising efforts. At the centre of that transformation, as a technology and market leader, we have to play a key role.

Which is the most demanding industry in this transition?

Claudio: It starts with our customers. Utilities need to improve generation and distribution of electricity. They need to find new revenue streams and business models. There is also substantial transformation going on in the traditional oil and gas industry. There are also more technology and investment opportunities in renewables and electrification and new technologies in chemical and petrochemical sectors as well as in generation of electricity from fossil fuels. We understand the needs of our new as well as traditional customers and what technology is required in this transformation.

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