Power and automation giant ABB, Ltd. (NYSE:ABB) was named Cleantech Corporation of the Year at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. The company has been focused on acquiring start ups in the cleantech space for the last couple of years, with two significant ones in 2010: Ventyx, a provider of IT systems to utilities, and Baldor Electric (BEZ), the premier supplier of high-efficiency motors in the U.S.
I very much like ABB's approach to cleantech. I'd even written about Baldor as a good way to invest in energy efficiency earlier in 2010 just a couple months before the buyout announcement.
While ABB is touting its eco-sheik acquisitions in smart grid (Ventryx, Trilliant) and Electric vehicle charging (Ecototality), they seldom mention one of the best reasons for a clean energy investor to be interested in the company: ABB has long been a leading supplier of electric transformers, substations, and high-voltage DC transmission.
Despite all the talk of grid-based energy storage, the least expensive solution to the variability of wind and solar power is geographic dispersion, according to Leo Casey, Chief Technology Officer of Boston-based inverter company Satcon Technology (SATC).
Any investor familiar with the concept of diversification will agree. The farther you travel, the more the weather changes. So the output of dispersed solar and wind plants are less and less correlated the farther you spread them. By connecting them with a robust grid, you've built a diversified electricity generation portfolio, which will be much less volatile than an undiversified portfolio of local wind or solar generation.
So congratulations, ABB. You deserve the recognition ... both for the shiny new acquisitions, and for the less pretty, but absolutely necessary power businesses you've always been known for.
DISCLOSURE: Long SATC
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This article was first published on AltEnergyStocks.com as "ABB Group – A Cleantech Company?"