FIRST-MOVER ADVANTAGE

Portugal 2019 | ENERGY & GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

With over 150 employees and a turnover of USD70 million, ABB focuses on adding value to service and engineering for power transmission, distribution, and automation.

What are ABB's most important projects in Portugal?

We were awarded a project that requires an innovative solution on the island of Porto Santo, next to Madeira, one of the first such projects in Europe. It is a battery storage system that will sustain the island's grid. The project will store energy and regulate the power in the island; the goal of the local government is to make these two islands energy efficient from an environmental point of view. The ultimate goal of this system is to integrate renewables into the grid and make the island a truly green island.

How would you characterize the current investment climate in the energy sector?

We are witnessing a major change, especially due to efforts from Portugal's two main utility providers, REN and EDP, which are also among ABB's top 10 clients in Portugal. These two companies made a huge effort and investment to accommodate the penetration of renewables into the grid. Therefore, the current energy grid is new as a result of their efforts, allowing us to have a secure and dependable network. At the same time, there is a new challenge for grid operators to manage the penetration of electrical vehicles and the distributed power generation as a result of residential micro production.

Who are your main clients and partners?

One of our primary clients is Navigator, a pulp and paper company where we installed a huge base. Meanwhile, Volkswagen AutoEuropa is our main client in terms of the robotics area. On the utilities side, we have REN and EDP, as well as EEM in Madeira for the Porto Santo project.

What are your human resource requirements in Portugal, and how do you keep your existing talent?

ABB has around 150 employees, 50% of which are engineers, service engineers, application engineers, and sales staff. We have a demanding and precise talent management system. One of our most important values is to share and give value back to our employees. The average age of our employees is around 40, which means we are a young company. We put in a great deal of effort and invest in training our employees in all aspects, from technical training to themes related to OHS, integrity, and finance.

From a global perspective, how would you assess Portuguese innovation?

Portugal is one of the most advanced countries in the power automation segment. We are experiencing the fourth industrial revolution, and the world is now talking about digitization, but in Portugal, the first steps toward digitization began about 20 years ago. That is why Portuguese engineers are well prepared for modern challenges. Similarly, many small Portuguese companies are developing solutions that are out of the box. We see these as opportunities to become leaders in new developments and innovations.

What are your priorities and goals for the next few years?

The strategy of ABB is clear: profitable growth, relentless execution, and business-led collaboration. The company wants to be present in all segments of the economy related to its portfolio. We want to be the best in the area, promote talent, develop the future, and be ahead of our customers to attend upcoming challenges. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees. We work in network and in several developments, and our goal in Portugal is to adapt this group strategy to local realities. ABB will have an even bigger presence in automation and digitalization as well as in the new concept of mobility. We want to be part of this revolution and influence the use of applications and digitalization. Finally, we want to continue working on our platform to gather all the relevant technologies and put them to work for customer needs.