Leading technology

Leading technology Transforming society and industry to achieve a more productive and sustainable future

ABB provides solutions and technologies that are enabling society to preserve resources, become cleaner, more efficient, resilient and flexible

ABB’s history stretches back to the late 19th century, when electricity was first harnessed to serve the needs of manufacturing, mobility and infrastructure. Since then, we have continued to advance the technologies that improve people’s lives and drive economic prosperity.

Today, we take pride in developing clean and efficient solutions for our customers that enable them to reduce their ecological footprint. Our extensive portfolio of products and services enables them to be more energy-efficient while conserving natural resources.

According to the International Energy Agency, industry generates about 24 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – not just from burning fossil fuels, but also from chemical processes, waste management and other production-related activities. With respect to cleaner and more efficient infrastructure, existing technologies can be used to optimize water and waste treatment, energy services and other resources of critical importance to cities. The transport sector is also poised to be revolutionized by new developments in e-mobility, non-emitting vehicles and energy storage. Many of the advanced solutions required to make our cities and industries cleaner and more efficient have already been developed.

For buildings, transport and industry, among other sectors, reducing emissions and the responsible use of resources are now firmly at the top of the agenda. In addressing these new priorities, sustainable operations and products increasingly represent a competitive advantage in and of themselves. Consequently, demand is strong for products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency and reduce consumption of non-renewable resources.

Many of ABB’s technologies meet these demands. In this chapter, we have highlighted some of the key technologies that contributed in 2020 to progress toward the achievement of the targets associated with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations in 2016 to serve as a shared blueprint for achieving peace and prosperity throughout the world.

While ABB’s activities can be linked to all of the SDGs, our products, services and solutions contribute directly to SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 17 (partnerships for the goals). Technological innovation will play a critical role in meeting these needs – improving people’s living standards while reducing their impact on the environment. That is why we believe ABB’s Purpose is aligned with the global effort to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The ABB Sustainability Report’s chapter on leading technology this year spotlights the latest contributions to sustainability made by our four Business Areas: Electrification, Process Automation, Motion, and Robotics & Discrete Automation. In concluding the sustainability reporting cycle that we began in 2013, each Business Area lays out lessons learned from the pursuit of our 2020 target – which was to expand our eco-efficiency portfolio to account for 60 percent of ABB’s total revenue. 

We completed the final measurement of our progress towards achieving this target in mid-2020. Including the contributions of our Power Grids business, our eco-efficiency portfolio at mid-year accounted for 58 percent of ABB’s total revenue. This continued our trend of overall increases in revenues from our eco-efficiency portfolio, achieving a strong result which was very close to target. This target will not be carried forward as such or updated for our next sustainability reporting cycle. For these reasons, we did not re-baseline our 2013 data or recalculate our progress towards the target without the contributions of Power Grids. Our future targets, linked to the impact our products and solutions have for our customers, will bring an even higher level of ambition in how we support customers to deliver positive impact on environment.

Eco-efficiency portfolio development
Eco-efficiency portfolio development (graphic)

Underpinning many of the technologies presented by our Business Areas in this report is our comprehensive digital offering, ABB Ability™, which enhances gains in efficiency. For example, solutions under the ABB Ability™ brand collect and analyze data and provide our customers with insights into their processes and equipment in order to increase the safety, productivity and energy efficiency of their operations. Even as it helps our customers optimize their business performance, ABB Ability™ also enables them to reduce their consumption of energy, water and other vital resources, while minimizing their impacts on air quality and the environment.