Driving France’s e-mobility and clean energy ambitions with innovative ABB technology

Paris, France
Paris, France

The arrival of the ABB Formula E Championship in Paris this weekend, for the fourth consecutive year, makes a powerful statement about the role of this mold-breaking race series in highlighting ambitious French goals to become a world leader in the fields of sustainability and climate change awareness. In a country profoundly committed to sustainable energy solutions, ABB, a pioneering technology leader, is a strategic partner in the effort.

It was in Paris in 2011 that the idea of a global all-electric motor-racing championship was conceived and France – home of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – is committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2030. To do so means significantly curtailing emissions from transportation, as fossil-fueled vehicles currently account for 28 percent of CO₂ emissions in France and are a major contributor of other health-threatening gases and particulates.

France’s government-backed e-mobility strategy is founded in part on banning high-polluting fossil-fuel cars by 2020, with a further goal for 2040 of ending the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered cars outright.

Frank Duggan, President of ABB Europe, notes that the emotional connection being made by ABB Formula E to fans and consumers in major world city centers such as Paris, is helping to shift perceptions about the potential of e-mobility and electric vehicles (EVs): “ABB Formula E is touching the hearts of the people with the exciting racing we’re seeing at every event,” he says. “All the young people can see how exciting electric cars are and e-mobility is. The race in Paris is going to help boost electric mobility and help drive French industry to keep embracing developments in sustainable technology.”

Cleaner transit

The country is further encouraging the uptake of e-mobility by swapping 4,600 internal combustion buses run by the state-owned public transport operator in Paris with electric and gas-powered alternatives by 2025.

ABB is ideally positioned to support these decisions with its market-leading technological solutions. In the north-west city of Nantes, for example, ABB is providing the world’s fastest flash-charging connection technology to power the city’s first fully-electric 24-meter buses that can carry 151 passengers. The zero-emission buses, with roof-mounted batteries, do not require overhead lines and can be charged in just 20 seconds – less time than it takes for passengers to disembark and others to board. A robotic arm automatically connects to the overhead charging terminal to provide a 600-kilowatt burst of electricity. ABB’s curbside batteries and transformers enable the system to prepare for each flash charge without causing a disruptive surge on the local energy grid. As part of ABB’s innovative technology, the revolutionary charging solution is making e-buses fully feasible for city use.

For the private motorist, meantime, a network of ABB fast-charging stations being set up across France is making longer journeys without ‘range anxiety’ increasingly viable. These stations are part of the Ionity project, which will build a European network of high-powered EV charging stations on major highways. About 400 such stations are planned to be set up by 2020, with an average of six charging points in each station. In France, 80 stations will be built, two of which are already operational – on the Porte d’Auger Sud (A11) and Tours la Longue Vue (A10).

These charging stations can be fully networked through the ABB Ability™ digital platform. Network operators, from a central location, can remotely monitor, administer and update the chargers; provide customer payment systems; and continuously calibrate the stations to work most efficiently with the local grid or a renewable energy power supply.

ABB’s DC-format Terra HP charger can operate at levels of up to 350 kilowatts and is able to add almost 300 kilometers of range to an EV in not much longer that needed to fuel a gasoline engine vehicle. ABB is the global leader in fast-charging technology, with more than 10,500 charger units sold in 73 countries.

Enabling clean energy

E-mobility provides clean transport solutions if it is powered by sustainable and reliable energy sources. Here, too, ABB is playing a major role in the French industrial landscape by designing and deploying systems that transmit clean energy across long distances.

The company is providing its high-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology to connect the national electricity networks of France and the United Kingdom, via the IFA 2 link. Due to be commissioned in 2020, the 1,000-megawatt system will connect Chilling in Hampshire, on the English south coast, with Tourbe in northern France – a distance of 240 kilometers.

ABB converter stations on either end of the undersea cable will transform alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), in order to minimize electrical loss. The stations will also convert the electricity back to AC for use on the power grids.

The HVDC system incorporates ABB Ability™ digital solutions that will constantly monitor and manage operations to ensure reliability, while detecting potential faults in advance. The system has been designed to enhance the security, affordability and sustainability of energy supplies in both countries – and make it easier to smoothly incorporate renewable energy into the power grids of France and Britain.

Digital France

In the digital realm, where ABB is increasingly focused as a leader in digital industries, the company is supporting industrial automation and digitalization through its groundbreaking solutions.

Modernization of the Paris Metro ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics represents a great opportunity for ABB to showcase its innovative technology. As Paris gears up to host the Games, the city has embarked on the ‘Grand Paris’ project to transform its metropolitan area into a city of the future. A key part of the project is the modernization of Paris’ existing transport network and the creation of a new driverless Metro – the Grand Paris Express. The project will be partially -complete by 2024 and by 2030 Paris will boast 205 kilometers of autonomous Metro lines and 68 new stations.

Already, ABB has updated two underground substations to ensure more reliable power for the entire Metro network. These substations are supported by Optimax, part of ABB Ability™ Energy Management solutions that allow for centralized monitoring of the power supply around the clock, to avoid unplanned power outages that can disrupt operations.

The significance of any of these sustainable developments underway in France cannot be underestimated for the country in whose capital, in 2015, the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change was settled – with its aim of binding signatories to CO2 emission targets.

As France looks keenly to the future, ABB will continue to make its industries more reliable and its transportation more sustainable.

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