ABB Installs Microgrid Solutions at its South Africa Campus

ABB disclosed its plan of installation of an integrated solar-diesel microgrid at its facilities in Johannesburg, South Africa. This new solution, comprising a rooftop solar photovoltaic (‘PV’) field and a PowerStoreTM grid stabilizer, is aimed at boosting the usage of renewable energy and offers uninterrupted power supply at the premises, especially during grid to island operation transitions and power disruptions.

To be installed at ABB’s Longmeadow premises, which is a 96,000 square meter facility, the innovative solution has a 750 kW rooftop PV plant and a 1 MVA/380 kWh battery-based PowerStore. The Longmeadow campus houses ABB’s South African headquarters along with medium voltage switchgear manufacturing and protection panel assembly factories.

The latest move by ABB seems strategic, given the power supply challenges faced by South Africans. Also, instable fossil fuel prices and an uncertain environment are also among the concerns. However, the country has rich renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Thus, advanced microgrid technologies can be apt solutions for addressing such problems.
Apart from that, ABB has strong reasons for choosing South Africa for the installation of its solar-diesel microgrid solutions. The country has the highest electricity consumption in the sub-Saharan region, with demand outpacing the supply. As per a report by McKinsey & Company, sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have around 1,600 terawatt hours of electricity consumption by 2040, which is four fold higher than that in 2010. Notably, the assumption is based on projection of doubling population, fivefold increase in GDP and rising urbanization in the region. Hence, ABB has strong prospects of escalating the deployment of its highly advanced microgrid solutions in South Africa.

As a matter of fact, of late, ABB is dedicatedly aiming at capitalizing on growth opportunities in African regions. Most recently, the company secured an order from Socabelec East Africa Ltd. to stabilize power supply at the Marsabit wind farm in North Kenya. ABB will be responsible for designing, supplying and installing its PowerStore flywheel microgrid stabilization solution for the hybrid plant.

According to management, both Africa’s sustainable development and advancement of microgrid solutions are part of ABB’s Next Level strategy, which focuses on three primary areas – profitable growth, relentless execution and business-led collaboration. With regulatory authorities constantly encouraging generation of renewable energy, reduction of dependency on fossil fuels has become extremely important in the energy market. As ABB has already perfected the art of integrating wind and solar power with diesel-powered grids, more and more energy providers are likely to avail its services, going forward.