Insights 2023: Mario Macri

ABB Australia Pty Ltd

Monday, 16 January, 2023


Insights 2023: Mario Macri

What opportunities do you predict for your industry’s growth in 2023?

It is now more important than ever to aim towards building smart cities that are truly sustainable, have cleaner transportation and feature more efficient buildings and infrastructures that serve essential human needs such as homes, water, electricity and connectivity.

Digitalisation and connectivity are key enablers of building cities that are truly sustainable. These technologies give us access to deeper insights into the performance of assets. They unlock the potential of creating cost-efficient, flexible and futureproof solutions for safer and more reliable systems. We see huge growth opportunities in the implementation of these technologies available today that can achieve energy efficiency and cut electric consumption and costs in industrial, commercial and residential environments.

Smarter buildings

The world is going digital and the buildings segment is no exception. Applied to buildings, digital technology can increase overall transparency and help optimise building system performance for better occupant comfort and reduced energy use.

When we aim to minimise energy consumption, while still optimising the living conditions in buildings, we need to rethink the whole system from the ground up. Every possible way to save energy must be considered, and the most energy-efficient technologies and techniques must be applied. Together with renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, it is possible for buildings to generate surplus energy, which will create extra revenue for the owners when the surplus energy is sold back to the grid.

An energy-efficient building with smart management systems can be a tempting dealmaker on many levels for many different target groups. In the commercial world, investors, developers, buyers and tenants are increasingly aware of how an energy-efficient building can boost the positive reputation of their company as well as create a competitive advantage and making strong economic sense.

Smarter buildings of course also allow their owners, managers, users, tenants and communities to have greater connection, insight and convenience with their buildings and infrastructure. An ecosystem of interconnected assets, infrastructure and people at their core allowing an improved experience for those building users and groups.

Just as e-mobility is an integral part of a ‘smart’ habitat because the infrastructure and vehicles are all connected, meaning power loads can be managed according to demand, the same applies to smart buildings. ABB has developed a cost-efficient, cloud computing-based energy monitoring and management system to help cut waste and improve the energy efficiency of buildings and small industrial sites. Our ABB Ability Energy and Asset Manager solution can help to scale energy consumption analysis to cover most buildings, including those of a smaller size, and thus, make a first step in eliminating sources of energy waste in a cost-efficient manner.

Smarter industry

It has become essential for companies to reduce energy costs and shrink their carbon footprints as their stakeholders become increasingly concerned about sustainability. Take mining as an example. Australia is leading the charge on the sustainability front in mining. We are seeing miners make strong commitments to the zero emissions target; for instance, FMG has brought forward their net zero target by 10 years to achieve this by 2030.

This greatly impacts decision-making around technology investment and modernisation. It needs to start with a definition of what an organisation’s carbon footprint is, and what falls within their scope of decarbonisation. The next step is to examine the technology and what is currently possible to decarbonise. If companies graph this versus the benefit, the low-hanging fruit should stand out — such as light commercial vehicles moving to electric or seeking to digitalise and electrify assets allowing renewable energy sources to be used or already electrified assets to be further optimised.

Smarter mobility

The Grattan Institute’s policy research shows that zero-emissions vehicles are the best option for cutting transport emissions. Considering it takes time to replace a nation’s vehicle fleet — for example, it’s a 20-year cycle in Australia — the transition starting line needs to be now. Australia’s National Transport Commission has found that if buyers of new vehicles in 2020 had focused on ‘best-in-class’ emissions performance, the country’s average carbon emissions intensity would have dropped dramatically — 93% for passenger cars and light SUVs and 50% for heavy SUVs and light commercial vehicles.

This is the domain of immediate wins. As targets grow closer in our windscreens — and, for some, even zoom past their rear-view mirrors — the sustainability value of e-fleets will increasingly be part of how performance is measured.

Urgency will be compounded as demand picks up. Even in the Australian market, where electric vehicle uptake lags behind most developed economies globally, the Electric Vehicle Council has confirmed that up to September 2022, 26,356 EVs were sold in Australia, making up 3.39% of all new cars — a 65% increase from EV’s market share of 2% in 2021. New models are entering the market, albeit at a slower rate than other countries. As fleet emissions standards are introduced, with the likelihood that future internal combustion sales will be blocked at some point, the impetus for transitioning to e-fleets will become even more essential…and influential to performance.

Furthermore, ABB in collaboration with Amazon Web Services is developing a cloud-based digital solution for the real-time fleet management of EVs to optimise the efficient use of EVs and speed up the electrification of transport fleets. Using machine learning and analytics, it will include a compelling set of features including charge planning and real-time monitoring with insight and actions for vehicle health and servicing, along with EV route optimisation based on time of day, weather and use patterns.

What are your carbon emission reduction goals for 2023?

With global technology sectors accounting for three-quarters of global energy consumption, carbon reduction is an issue that ABB can do something about. Not only is ABB reducing its own operational carbon footprint by continuing to transition to renewable energy and vastly improving energy efficiency inhouse, but it is also undertaking everything it can to help customers reduce theirs, without diminishing productivity.

For example, ABB has secured Ecopassport accreditation for two power conditioning products: SureWave SFC and HiPerGuard MV UPS that achieve superior results in their specific target industries. Each of these products provides the end customer with the means to use cleaner power, reduce CO2 emissions and lower their energy costs throughout the products’ entire life cycle — all without having to sacrifice reliability, productivity and overall cost-effectiveness.

Embedding sustainability into the distribution of energy is a crucial step. For over 50 years gas insulated switchgear (GIS) has used sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) as insulation gas, due to its excellent insulation and arc quenching qualities. But SF6 is the world’s most potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 23,500 times that of CO2 and an atmospheric lifetime of 3200 years. As the world accelerates its electrification, more and more SF6 continues to leak into the atmosphere and it is accumulating. Since 2002 the SF6 concentration in the atmosphere has doubled!

The good news — ABB launched proven SF6-free gas insulated switchgear to empower utilities, industries and infrastructure customers to make greener choices in a world of evolving regulations and standards. Because of its benefit to society, the basic patents have been opened to be used by anybody for free, thus enabling more switchgear manufacturers to use this technology. With our ecoGIS portfolio, ABB is helping customers make the transition to SF6-free technology and significantly reduce the carbon footprint in energy distribution.

On top of this, we aim to innovate towards new circular business models by cutting waste, increasing recyclability and reusability, and making our products more durable. Going well beyond traditional recycling, circularity also focuses on durability and reusability across value chains and industries. For instance, following the circularity approach, thousands of ABB industrial robots have been refurbished and upgraded to have a second life.

We work closely with customers and suppliers to embed circularity across the value chain. By 2030, at least 80% of ABB’s products and solutions will be covered by our circularity approach and evaluated against a clear set of key performance indicators (KPIs), corresponding to each stage of the product lifecycle.

To learn more about how ABB is electrifying Australia and enabling a low-carbon society, scan the QR code or visit new.abb.com/au/electrify-australia.

Mario Maci has more than 20 years of experience working across oil & gas, chemicals and energy sectors throughout the Asia Pacific region. As head of both the Smart Buildings and Smart Power divisions, Mario oversees a significant product portfolio providing electrification solutions for buildings, industry, manufacturing and infrastructure. This includes low-voltage electrical distribution, power protection, emergency lighting and building automation products and solutions. This portfolio also encompasses the ABB Ability range of digital smart products and solutions.

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