A new whitepaper from ABB reveals potential for significant energy efficiency improvements in industry and infrastructure enabled by the latest and most high-efficiency motors and variable speed drives. The company is calling on governments and industry to accelerate adoption of the technology to help combat climate change.
The company cites the International Energy Agency (IEA) which says, industry accounts for 37% of global energy use and some 30% of global energy is consumed in buildings.
ABB highlights electric motors and variable speed drives that are mostly hidden from public view because are embedded in almost every built environment. They power a vast range of applications fundamental to our modern way of life, from industrial pumps, fans and conveyors for manufacturing and propulsion systems for transportation to compressors for electrical appliances and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in buildings.
Motor and drive technologies have seen exceptionally rapid advancement in the past decade, with today’s innovative designs delivering remarkable energy efficiencies. However, according to the company, a significant number of industrial electric motor-driven systems in operation today – in the region of 300 million globally — are inefficient or consume much more power than required, resulting in monumental energy wastage.
Independent research estimates that if these systems were replaced with optimized, high-efficiency equipment, the gains to be realized could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10%. In turn, this would account for more than 40% of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the 2040 climate goals established by the Paris Agreement.
“Industrial energy efficiency, more than any other challenge, has the single greatest capacity for combatting the climate emergency. It is essentially the world’s invisible climate solution,” says Morten Wierod, president of ABB Motion. “For ABB, sustainability is a key part of our company purpose and of the value that we create for all of our stakeholders. By far the biggest impact we can have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through our leading technologies, which reduce energy use in industry, buildings and transport.”
“The importance of transitioning industries and infrastructure to these highly energy efficient drives and motors to play their 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.”
To take advantage of the tremendous opportunities afforded by energy efficient drives and motors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ABB says all stakeholders have a critical role to play:
- Public decision makers and government regulators need to incentivize their rapid adoption,
- Businesses, cities, and countries need to be aware of both the cost savings and environmental advantages and be willing to make the investment, and
- Investors need to reallocate capital toward companies better prepared to address the climate risk.
ABB’s white paper “Achieving the Paris Agreement: The Vital Role of High-Efficiency Motors and Drives in Reducing Energy Consumption” can be downloaded here.