15 Feb 2002 – Twelve months ago, global power and automation giant ABB was bullish about its alternative energy – linked operations. Following its results press conference this week, at which it announced a loss of $691m, ABB admitted that demand had been lower than expected and that the market had slowed.

ABB said it would be taking a cautious approach to the alternative energy market. Eric Drewery, head of group transformation and member of the ABB group executive committee said, “Any future planning must take into account uncertainty in the market.” He said that both the windpower market and the distributed generation market had slowed. “I am not as optimistic as a year ago,” he said.

ABB is developing wind power generation technologies including new subsystem concepts in order to optimize total plant efficiency, equipment and installation costs. Considerable investment has gone into developing its HVDC Light connector, a smaller and cheaper alternative that is suitable for handling offshore wind connections and the intermittent power generated.

“We have seen slow development in wind power,” said ABB UK Finance Director Trevor Gregory. He said that ABB remains interested in participating in future UK grid connection projects such as the west coast sub-sea connector – currently undergoing a feasibility study. “We have a meeting with the Energy Minister in a couple of weeks time to see how serious the government is about this project,” said Gregory.

Separately, ABB reported that it had reduced from three to two years, the project completion time for its 3000 MW, 940km power transmission link from the Three Gorges power plant to Guangdong province, China.

China was identified by ABB as one of its four priority countries. The others are US, Germany and India.