Saudi Arabia ‘truly transforming the energy system,’ says ABB chief

  • Speaking at Riyadh's Future Investment Summit on Wednesday, ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer said, "Saudi is truly transforming the energy system."
  • The kingdom aims to raise about $100 billion by taking a portion of its state oil giant Saudi Aramco public next year. The funds will underwrite an effort led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the nation's economy through a plan called Vision 2030.

Swiss power grid maker ABB is "ideally positioned" to support Saudi Arabia's transformative bid to become a more environmentally friendly nation, Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer told CNBC Wednesday.

Speaking at Riyadh's Future Investment Summit, Spiesshofer said, "Saudi is truly transforming the energy system."

"Renewables will play a major role, major plans on the solar side have been announced, wind will follow … That requires smarter, greener and more digitalized grids to manage the complexity and we are really working there," he added.

The kingdom aims to raise about $100 billion by taking a portion of its state oil giant Saudi Aramco public next year. The funds will underwrite an effort led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the nation's economy through a plan called Vision 2030.

ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer.
Photo: ABB
ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer.

The precipitous drop of oil prices from more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to roughly $55 to date has hastened Saudi Arabia's transition from a petrostate to a Gulf nation built on a broader range of industries.

ABB currently has three major manufacturing hubs based in Saudi Arabia and Spiesshofer said the firm would continue to help Riyadh on a range of issues, spanning from robotics to renewable energy.

The Swiss company previously supplied Saudi Arabia with high voltage switch gear in 2016 to support the country's first integrated solar and natural gas power plant. More recently, the Zurich-based firm provided uninterruptible power supplies to Saudi Arabia's North-South railway project – the world's largest railway construction undertaking.

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

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