High efficiency drives could reduce global electricity consumption by 10%

High efficiency drives could reduce global electricity consumption by 10%

In a new whitepaper, ABB reveals the potential for significant energy efficiency improvements in industry and infrastructure enabled by the latest high efficiency drives and motor systems. They call on governments and industry to speed up the adoption of the technology to help combat climate change.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), industry accounts for 37% of global energy use. Furthermore, some 30% of global energy consumption is in buildings.

Whilst hidden from public view, electric motors and the VSDs that optimise their operation are in almost every environment. They power a vast range of applications fundamental to the modern way of life, from industrial pumps, fans and conveyors for manufacturing to propulsion systems for transportation to compressors for electrical appliances and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in buildings.

Motor and drive technologies have seen rapid advances in the past decade, with the latest designs delivering remarkable energy efficiencies. However, many of the estimated 300 million electric motor-driven systems in operation today are inefficient. They consume much more power than needed, resulting in an enormous waste of energy.

Reducing global electricity consumption by 10%

Independent research estimates that replacing old systems with high efficiency drives and motors could reduce global electricity consumption by almost 10%. This would account for more than a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 2040 Paris Climate Agreement. “Industrial energy efficiency, more than any other challenge, has the single greatest capacity for combating the climate emergency. It is the world’s invisible climate solution,” said Morten Wierod, President ABB Motion.

High efficiency drives systems

“The importance of transitioning industries and infrastructure to these high energy efficiency drives and motors plays an important part in a more sustainable society cannot be overstated.” continues Wierod. “With 45% of the world’s electricity used to power electric motors in buildings and industrial applications, investment in upgrading them will yield outsized rewards in terms of efficiency.”

Regulatory policies are among the main drivers of industrial investment in energy efficiency around the globe. For example, the UK and EU will implement the revised Ecodesign Regulation (EU 2019/1781) from July this year. This sets out stringent new requirements for expanding the use of energy-efficient motors and VSD.

These regulations affect new installations, but the huge installed base can also enjoy savings from energy-efficient drives and motors. To deliver the huge opportunities afforded by reducing greenhouse gases, ABB says stakeholders must act. For example:

  • Public decision-makers and government regulators must incentivise their rapid adoption for retrofitting
  • Businesses, cities, and countries need to be aware of both the cost savings and environmental advantages. Importantly, they must  willing to make the investment and be willing to make the appropriate investments.
  • Investors must reallocate capital towards companies better prepared to address the climate risk.

“Only by acting and innovating together, can we keep critical services running while saving energy and combating climate change”, concludes Wierod.

ABB’s white paper “Achieving the Paris Agreement: The Vital Role of High Efficiency Motors and Drives in Reducing Energy Consumption.” It is available for download here.

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