ABB - Dirty business with clean energy

ABB - Dirty business with clean energy

The Swiss group ABB is participating in a project in the occupied Western Sahara, thereby promoting the conflict over the former Spanish colony. The power engineering producer has already delivered a transformer station - further plants could follow.
The Sahrauis demand that ABB should withdraw from the Western Sahara.

Morocco's plans for renewable energy are ambitious and commendable. By 2030, half of the country's electricity is to come from renewable energy. However, wind turbines and solar plants will not only be installed on Moroccan territory, but also in the occupied Western Sahara. ABB is involved in at least one wind project there. 

In the Western Sahara, numerous renewable energy projects are being developed with the support of international companies. What is worthy of support at first glance turns out to be problematic at second glance. The projects are being carried out against the will of the affected Sahrawi people. The German company Siemens, which along with the Italian company Enel and the English company Windhoist is significantly involved in wind projects in the Western Sahara, has been criticized for this for years at its general meeting.  

Swiss power engineering producer ABB is also involved in at least one project, with a substation for the Aftissat wind farm. The group did not rule out participating in further projects in Western Sahara. When asked, the group did not correct the conclusion drawn by terre des hommes schweiz that it was not a problem for ABB to be active in the occupied territory. ABB has since sold the sector concerned to Japan's Hitachi, but 19.9 percent of the ABB Hitachi Power Grids joint venture still belongs to the Swiss group. 

In the process, infrastructure projects contribute to the continuation of the occupation. Since 1991, the UN has been trying to implement the self-determination referendum agreed upon by Morocco and the Sahrawi representation Frente Polisario. But it remains blocked. The geopolitical and economic interests of European countries in particular are too great. The situation is further complicated by the fact that a company belonging to the Moroccan royal family, Nareva, is involved in the wind energy projects. As long as the latter profits from cooperation with foreign companies in the occupied territory, serious interest in holding the agreed referendum is unlikely. 

Therefore, ABB's involvement in the occupied territory contributes to the continuation of the conflict in Western Sahara. 

Other Swiss companies also do business in Western Sahara. For example LafargeHolcim a cement factory, Volg sells tomatoes from the occupied territory and Swiss companies are repeatedly involved in the transport of fish or phosphate from Western Sahara. 

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