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Business Interview: ‘Hitachi ABB aims to be a major contributor to Oman’s Vision 2040’

25 Aug 2020

Hitachi ABB Power Grids commenced operations on July 1, 2020 globally. This was the result of ABB Power Grids being merged with Hitachi, a deal that was announced in December 2018. The new joint venture (JV) is a global leader in power systems, with annualised revenues of approximately US$10bn, serving customers in over 90 countries. In an interview with Muscat Daily,Mostafa Al Guezeri, managing director – GCC, Near East and Pakistan at Hitachi ABB Power Grids, shared insights on the merger and talked about the company’s operations and priorities in Oman and the GCC region.

Both ABB Power Grids and Hitachi have had strong footprints in the GCC for a long time. How would the merger of two entities help Hitachi ABB serve this region better?

We are uniquely positioned to serve customers for the energy transition. By combining capabilities across sustainable energy and advanced digital technologies, we embrace the spirit of innovation. Our business serves utility, industry and infrastructure customers across the value chain, and emerging areas like sustainable mobility, smart cities, energy storage and data centers.

By leveraging capabilities in digital and energy platforms and with a focus on intelligent grids, we enable customers to increase resilience and efficiency, and unlock new business models.

We see opportunities in the Middle East in the following areas:

·        Integration of large-scale renewables into the grid (to increase flexibility and resilience).

·        We co-create innovative solutions with customers and partners across the value chain, leveraging energy platforms and a focus on intelligent grids.

·        Making the smart cities of the future a reality: The role of electricity and modern power systems in enabling cleaner, greener smart cities, particularly in transport (electrification) and enabling decarbonisation through e-mobility.

·        Contributing sustainable energy solutions helping society related projects, in response to how to get the economy moving again after the unprecedented situation (Greening’ the economy and ‘build back better’) which simultaneously contributes to the climate change targets.

·        Accelerating the vision of power without borders (increasing grid interconnections) as we focus on transforming the power system into a more flexible, resilient, cross-border infrastructure, that’s more responsive to dynamic changes in demand.

What are the immediate priorities of Hitachi ABB and how will the merger impact your existing projects in Oman and other GCC states?

The JV brings together two highly respected companies to create a global technology leader. Hitachi’s leading digital technologies merged with world-class power grids solutions will help us to actively support the global transformation and decarbonisation of the energy system. The alliance with Hitachi will facilitate growth opportunities for JV in emerging areas such as mobility, smart cities, industry, energy storage and data centres as well as open up new geographies, most notably Japan, the third largest economy in the world.

Synergies and access to new and growing markets provided by Hitachi will help take Power Grids to the next stage, further strengthening its leading position. By combining our respective technology strengths will bring us new market opportunities and enable us to deliver greater customer value.

In addition, the JV will leverage Hitachi’s digital solutions portfolio, to expand its portfolio and extend its presence in sectors like mobility (e.g. electrification of railways and buses), industry (e.g. energy management and asset optimisation), smart life (e.g. smart cities, energy storage), and IT (e.g. software solutions and data centres) – all contributing to social innovation.

What are the biggest opportunities that you see for Hitachi ABB in Oman? And what’s going to be your long-term strategy for Oman?

We will continue to serve our loyal customers and major stakeholders in all segments especially in national projects such connecting the northern part of the electric grid to the south. We see opportunities in expanding our installation base across all sectors whether its utilities, oil and gas, industries, infrastructure, mobility, etc as it remains a major economy pillar in Oman.

The long-term strategy would be to invest further in Omani talents in different functions and to be a major contributor to Oman’s future 2040 Vision in all aspects (energy diversification, environment protection, economic growth and social innovation).

How do you see Oman’s renewable energy sector developing over the next few years?

Oman is unique as it has a great potential in both wind and solar energy in addition to digitalisation which is key in all GCC countries. The pipeline of the independent power projects (IPPs) is very promising for the next five years and Hitachi ABB is quite eager to continue working with all stakeholders, partners, developers and EPC contractors to serve this segment. This is an area that Hitachi ABB excel in customising pioneering products and solutions. We have gained tremendous experience executing world-class projects globally and regionally and would like to continue with similar successes in Oman. We’re excited to be at the forefront of sustainable energy innovation. We believe that enabling a stronger, smarter and greener power grid can drive progress for a sustainable energy future.

In your view, how is the Gulf region’s energy sector coping with coronavirus crisis? Do you think COVID-19 pandemic would have any impact on sectors where Hitachi ABB will be operating?

Like all businesses, we expect to see an impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit we view this as a temporary dip. We are expecting things to pick back up again, although it is too early to say when this will be. One thing remains constant and that is societal progress which depends upon a reliable source of electricity to fuel development and we see opportunities for a green recovery. We are committed to supporting our customers through these extraordinary times to deliver reliable power to millions around the world.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids has several manufacturing units in the Middle East and as part of our global footprint, we strive to deliver high quality solutions and services to meet the needs of our customers across the world.

The pandemic has accelerated new ways of working and doing business. Hitachi ABB Power Grids is pioneering solutions which enables customers to accelerate in digitalisation. Through digitalisation customers can increase their efficiency and optimise their operations. Furthermore, digitalisation is helping to unlock new business models and serve the needs of ‘prosumers’ whose purchasing habits are driving transformation in global energy markets.

With regard to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic we defined our priorities as protecting people, ensuring business continuity and preparing for the new ‘norm’. It is still early to assess mid to longer-term impact, which will also depend on how long before confidence returns, and economies rebound. However, our fundamentals market drivers remain intact with the growing need for sustainable energy.

 

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