Wired for the Future

ABB is a global leader in electrical engineering and automation. With the rapid pace of urbanization, there’s an increasing demand for efficient and sustainable power solutions, and ABB’s advancements in smart grids and renewable energy integration are pivotal in meeting the demands of this transition. Moreover, as industries evolve, there’s a need for automation solutions that not only enhance productivity but also ensure safety. ABB also provides solutions that range from robot arms for manufacturing to electric propulsion systems for ships. Based in Zurich, Switzerland, this multinational corporation is known for driving the digital transformation in these industries and more.


ABB Formula E, credit: ABB

ABB’s history can be traced back to the late 19th century, with the establishment of two separate companies: Asea in Sweden and Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) in Switzerland. Asea was founded in 1883 by Ludvig Fredholm in Västerås, Sweden. The company initially focused on producing electrical light and generators. On the other hand, BBC, established in 1891 by Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown and Walter Boveri in Baden, Switzerland, quickly made a name for itself in the electrical engineering world, especially in the production of steam turbines and transformers. In 1988, Asea and BBC merged into ABB.

ABB’s Electrifying Legacy

One of the firm’s first major achievements came in the form of the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission system. Developed in the 1950s by Asea, this technology was nothing short of revolutionary. Traditional electrical transmission systems used alternating current (AC). While AC systems were widespread, they had limitations, especially when it came to transmitting electricity over long distances. Energy losses were significant, and the longer the transmission lines, the more pronounced these losses became. Enter HVDC. Unlike AC systems, HVDC allowed for the transmission of electricity over vast distances with minimal energy loss. This was a game-changer. For the first time, it was possible to transmit power efficiently across continents and under oceans.

The implications of HVDC were vast. Regions rich in renewable energy sources, like hydroelectric power or wind energy, could now transmit this power to areas thousands of kilometers away. This not only made renewable energy more viable but also reduced the need for localized fossil fuel-based power generation. For instance, the Itaipu HVDC transmission system, developed by ABB, allowed for the transmission of hydroelectric power from the Itaipu dam in Brazil to São Paulo, a distance of more than 800 kilometers. This project alone showcased the potential of HVDC technology and its role in sustainable energy transmission. HVDC systems played a crucial role in interconnecting power grids from different regions. This interconnectivity meant that power could be shared more efficiently, reducing waste and ensuring a more stable and reliable power supply.


Credit: ABB