According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), industry accounts for 37% of global energy use and some 30% of global energy is consumed in buildings.
While mostly hidden from public view, electric motors — and the variable-speed drives that optimize their operation — 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, 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,” said Morten Wierod, president, 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.”
Considerable steps have already been taken to support the uptake of electric vehicles and renewable energy sources. ABB believes it is time to do the same for an industrial technology that will deliver even greater benefits for the environment and the global economy.
“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,” continued 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.”
ABB frequently assesses the net impact of its own installed high efficiency motors and drives on global energy efficiency. In 2020, it enabled 198 terawatt-hours of electricity savings — more than half of the U.K.’s annual consumption. By 2023, it is estimated that ABB motors and drives will enable customers globally to save an additional 78 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, almost as much as the annual consumption of Belgium, Finland, or the Philippines and more than the total annual consumption of Chile.
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.