Powering Africa with ABB Ability

April 10, 2018 - A huge opportunity for achieving economic and social development with greater access to electricity and reliable energy supply



Access to electricity is not something that can be taken for granted anywhere, but in Africa, this is an even bigger challenge, especially supplying reliable electricity round the clock to remote communities and industrial hubs. While there is huge potential for renewable power generation in some areas from sources like hydro, geothermal, wind and solar, it still needs to be transported to consumption centers. Electricity is considered to be the lifeblood of an economy, and stable power supply is a pre-requisite for economic and social development.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a land mass about one fourth of the United States and a population of 80 million. But more than 80 percent of the population still lacks access to electricity. ABB is helping boost power supply by refurbishing the Inga-Kolwezi high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power transmission link, an upgrade that will double its capacity. ABB’s advanced MACH control system acts like the brain of the 1,700-kilometer-long HVDC link – monitoring, controlling and protecting the sophisticated technology in the stations.

Africa is also embracing other new technologies like microgrids with battery energy storage, which can prioritize integrated renewable energy sources before resorting to diesel as a back-up. At the World Heritage Robben Island site, previously running solely on fossil fuel, it is now possible to use solar energy for nearly nine months of the year. An ABB Ability PowerStore™ storage system connected with a wireless network to a photovoltaic field and the microgrid with advanced control and automation technology helps operate the installation remotely from Cape Town.

ABB Ability is ABB’s unified, cross-industry digital capability that extends from device to cloud and connecting customers to the Industrial Internet of Things. With devices, services systems, solutions, services and a digital platform that provide data insight, it is possible to know more, do more and improve the overall operations.

Utilities across Africa are continuously working on automating the power grid and ABB is right there by their side. ABB Ability™ Network Manager SCADA/DMS (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition/Distribution Management System) technology is monitoring and controlling power supply in real-time, to serve millions of consumers in South Africa by delivering reliable electricity to Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg, East London, Johannesburg and Witbank. In Durban, software based Enterprise Asset Management solutions from ABB ate handling the maintenance of critical electrical and storm water equipment.

The increasing integration of renewables and distributed energy sources on one hand, and the need to enable access to electricity and meet rising demand for electricity is driving the automation and digitalization of the grid. Powering Africa is essential to accelerate economic growth and social development across the continent - but this will take time and ability, ABB Ability.

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