Climate action Contributing to climate goals with pioneering technologies

ABB understands the consequences of climate change and is committed to decarbonizing its own operations

We support the Paris Agreement, which came into force in November 2016, and consider it a critical opportunity to limit global warming and avert the potentially devastating consequences of climate change. We are committed to reducing our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, stemming both from our use of energy and transport and from the handling of sulfur hexafluoride gas (SF6).

ABB is also an active participant in the United Nations-driven “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, which is working towards the goal of providing affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for everyone on the planet. The company is contributing to climate goals with pioneering technologies that enable utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure customers to improve their energy efficiency and operational performance while reducing waste.

Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
(Scope 1 and 2) and GHG intensity
Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – (Scope 1 and 2) and GHG intensity (bar chart)

In 2017, we refined the 2020 measures and targets for climate action at ABB. Going forward, our new target is to reduce our GHG emissions by 40 percent by 2020 vs a 2013 baseline. We made this change because we wanted to clearly demonstrate our commitment, drive action across all of our operations, and show the impacts of our efforts.

We performed well towards our 2020 target over the past year, as ABB’s total GHG emissions (scope 1 + 2) decreased to 1.03 million tons. This 25.5 percent reduction includes a methodology change in how we monitor emissions from our vehicle fleet. Without this change, our emissions reduction for 2017 would have been 4.6 percent, similar to reductions achieved in 2015 and 2016.

Our emissions of SF6 from production processes and gas handling continued to decrease in 2017, amounting to a nearly 40 percent reduction from 2013. Measures to improve handling, leak detection and storage procedures for the gas have been undertaken.

ABB location in Longmeadow (photo)

We achieved further emissions reductions thanks to initiatives to reduce the carbon intensity of our energy sources. Compared to 2013, we have reduced our use of fossil-fuel oil and diesel by more than 30 percent, while our use of biofuels has more than doubled and now constitutes a slightly larger share of our energy use than fossil-fuel oil and diesel.

In several European countries we now purchase all of our electricity from renewable sources. In 2017, 165 GWh, or 10.6 percent of all electricity used by ABB, was purchased as certified “green” electricity, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from 2016.

Case study ABB boosts renewables and power reliability at its own facilities

Reveal case study
Sustainable Development Goals – goal 07 (icon)
Sustainable Development Goals – goal 13 (icon)

In 2017, ABB completed the installation of a solar-diesel microgrid at its Longmeadow facility in Johannesburg, South Africa. This innovative solution has fully grid-connected and off-grid functionalities, designed to maximize the use of renewable energy and ensure an uninterrupted power supply to keep the lights on and the factories running during any planned or unplanned power outage on the main grid.

South Africa has the highest electricity consumption in sub-Saharan Africa, and demand continues to outpace supply. Power shortages, fossil-fuel price volatility, environmental concerns and increased reliance on renewable energy sources like wind and solar are driving the need for sustainable solutions. Many other emerging economies around the world face similar challenges.

The installation in Johannesburg uses the compact and versatile PowerStore™ battery-based grid stabilizing system to address frequency and voltage fluctuations. It also includes a Microgrid Plus distributed control system to manage the power supply, balancing fossil-fuel and renewable energy sources in accordance with loads to ensure access to utility-grade power. Meanwhile, ABB Ability provides the site with automated, data-driven services to support and maintain the microgrid. These solutions provide continuity of supply during disruptions or transitions from grid to islanded operation.

Close case study

More of our facilities are also installing on-site photovoltaic power plants to reduce their environmental impact and demonstrate our solar capabilities. In 2017, ABB’s Real Estate function expanded its energy efficiency program in the US, identifying over 400 technical measures it could apply in ABB’s buildings. These measures have the potential to save $6.8 million annually with an average payback period of 4.7 years. In previous years, the program had already identified 700 technical measures it could apply in our buildings in Europe.

In 2017, more than 250 energy-saving projects were underway at ABB sites, with expected annual energy savings of 35 GWh. Many of these projects addressed the efficiency of compressed air systems and heating, ventilation and cooling processes, while others focused on investing in more efficient equipment, implementing or updating heat recuperation from machines and processes, and improving the energy efficiency of our buildings. The most common and cost-effective projects involved the implementation of energy-efficient lighting solutions at our sites.

In addition, all ABB sites are required to establish energy-saving programs and act to reduce GHG emissions. In 2017, we introduced a quarterly KPI at 300 of our largest manufacturing sites, accounting for 95 percent of ABB’s energy usage, to track our progress.