ABB advocates wider application of efficient electric motors and frequency converters – the goal is to reduce global electricity consumption by 10%

In a newly published study, ABB reveals the potential for significant energy efficiency improvements in industry and infrastructure made possible by the latest high-energy electric motors and frequency regulators. ABB calls on governments and the industrial sector to accelerate the adoption of technology that will help fight climate change.

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

Although often hidden from the public eye, electric motors – and frequency converters that optimize their operation – are present in almost every environment. They start a large number of technological processes necessary for a modern way of life, from industrial pumps, fans and belt conveyors in production processes and drive systems in transport, to compressors in electrical devices and systems for air conditioning, heating and ventilation in buildings.

The use of highly efficient motors and frequency converters achieves energy savings in refrigeration systems, which are typically used in food and beverage factories.

In the last decade, there has been extremely rapid progress in the technology of electric motors and frequency converters, whose innovative designs provide exceptional energy efficiency. However, a significant number of industrial electric motor drives that are operational today – some 300 million worldwide – are inefficient or consume more energy than needed, leading to huge energy losses.

An independent study estimates that if these plants were replaced by optimized high-efficiency equipment, the gains made could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10%. In turn, this would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of about 40%, which is needed to achieve the goals defined by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by 2040.

“Industrial energy efficiency, more than any other challenge, has the greatest individual capacity to fight the climate emergency. It is essentially an invisible climate solution for the world, ”said Morten Wierod, President of ABB Motion. “Sustainability is the most important mission of our company and brings value to all participants in the process. By far the biggest impact we can have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through our leading technologies that reduce energy consumption in industry, facilities and transportation.

Significant steps have already been taken to support the adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy sources. ABB believes it is time to do the same for industrial technology that will bring even greater benefits to the environment and the global economy.

Pump applications like this are widespread in all branches of industry as well as in buildings, and are a priority for energy savings.

“The importance of the transition of industry and infrastructure facilities to the use of technology of highly efficient electric motor drives, which should play their role in creating a more sustainable society, cannot be emphasized enough,” Morten Virod continued. “Given that 45% of the world’s electricity consumption is used to power electric motors in infrastructure and industry, investing in new technologies will bring incredible efficiency benefits.”

ABB often assesses the impact of its own installed base of high-efficiency motors and frequency converters on global energy efficiency. The application of the mentioned technologies only in 2020 enabled the saving of electricity of 198 terawatt hours – more than half of the annual consumption in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that by 2023, ABB motors and frequency converters will enable customers around the world to save an additional 78 terawatt hours of electricity per year, which is almost equal to the annual consumption of Belgium, Finland or the Philippines, and more than the total annual consumption of Chile.

Regulatory policies are among the main drivers of industrial investment in energy efficiency worldwide. While the European Union will implement the Eco-Design Regulation (EU 2019/1782) this year, which sets strict new conditions for an ever-widening range of energy-efficient engines, many countries have yet to take appropriate action.

In order to take advantage of the enormous opportunities that energy-efficient electric motor drives provide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ABB reminds that all stakeholders should play an important role:

  • decision-makers and national regulators should encourage their rapid adoption,
  • the business sector, cities and countries should be aware of both achievable savings and environmental benefits and be willing to invest in it,
  • investors should redirect capital to better prepared companies that are better able to cope with climate risks.

“Although our role at ABB is to always provide the most efficient technologies, products and services to our customers and to introduce innovations for even greater efficiency, that in itself is not enough. All stakeholders should work together to achieve a complete change in energy use. By acting and innovating together, we can enable the functioning of the most important services while saving energy and fighting climate change, “concludes Morten Virod.

ABB’s study “Fulfilling the Paris Agreement: The essential role of high-efficiency electric motors and frequency converters in reducing energy consumption” can be downloaded here.

FIG (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is the world’s leading technology company that is driving a change in society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By linking software solutions to a portfolio of power, robotics, automation and electric motor drives, ABB is pushing the boundaries of technology to take performance to new levels. Based on a 130-year-long tradition based on the model of excellence, 105,000 talented people in over 100 countries are behind ABB’s success.

ABB Motion it drives the world – while saving energy every day. We innovate and push the boundaries of technology to enable an ecological future for both clients and industries and societies. With our frequency converters, electric motors and service, our customers and partners achieve better performance, safety and reliability. We offer a combination of expertise in this field and technology to provide optimal solutions for electric motor drives in a wide range of applications in all segments of the industry. Thanks to our worldwide presence, we are always close to serving our customers. Relying on 130 years of experience in working with electric motor drives, we learn and improve every day.

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