Just before the announcement of ABB’s acquisition of Baldor Electric (read more about that acquisition here), ABB released back-to-back announcements related to alternative energy investments.
The two companies ABB invested in are: Aquamarine Power, a Scottish company that has developed technology to convert energy captured from waves near shore into clean, usable electricity; and Pentalum Technologies, an Israel-based company developing advanced wind sensing technology for control and optimization of wind turbines and wind farms.
Among the reasons ABB invested some $13 million in Aquamarine Power was to gain additional access to the marine energy market, where the company sees high sales potential for its power systems, power electronics and medium-voltage drives.
Beyond such direct bottom line considerations, ABB maintains its belief in the potential for wave energy to claim its spot among developing alternative energy sources.
“Wave energy is primed to become an important part of the world’s renewable energy portfolio,” said Brice Koch, head of ABB marketing and customer solutions, which oversees the company’s renewable energy initiatives. “This investment reflects our belief in its technical viability, and our confidence in Aquamarine’s technology and its management team.”
Aquamarine’s Oyster wave power device consists of a hinged mechanical flap connected to the near shore seabed that pipes high-pressure water to an onshore turbine for power generation. The system is reportedly easier to install and maintain than other wave power generation systems.
The first full-scale demonstrator from Oyster began producing power at the European Marine Energy Center in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, in November 2009. Once commercialized, Oyster wave power devices could be deployed in farms rated at 100 megawatts or more.
The amount invested in Pentalum Technologies was not divulged, but it does provide ABB with access to light detection and ranging system markets for boosting wind farm efficiency and profitability.
Pentalum is developing a light detection and ranging technology that remotely senses the wind vector in front of wind turbines to optimally align them to incoming wind flow. Pentalum’s system is also applicable to wind forecasting and site assessment, and is designed to significantly increase wind farm efficiency at a lower cost per site than existing measurement technologies.
ABB has long been known for its attention to alternative energy markets and increasing the energy efficiency of its products. Of particular note was the concentrated focus on the integration of power and automation structures as well as energy harvesting at this year’s ABB Automation & Power Event (read more about that event here).