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Survey of 2k motors shows energy use could be cut by 31%

23 November, 2023

ABB has analysed the performance of more than 2,000 industrial electric motors in a variety of applications and found that their energy use could be cut by an average of 31% by upgrading them or using better controls. The potential energy savings equate to more than 2.1TWh across the 20-year lifetime of these systems – equivalent to the energy used every year by 1.25 million typical homes in the EU.

ABB estimates that if all of these motors – which it audited from June to September this year under its Energy Appraisal scheme – were operating in Germany, the savings would be enough to offset the emissions of a coal plant for two months, saving of 940,000 tonnes CO2 and delivering a ROI (return on investment) of just three months.

If the audited motors were all in the UAE, the savings would be 2.1TWh – equivalent to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and an ROI of six months.

The energy appraisals scheme pinpoints where the biggest energy savings lie in fleets of motor-driven systems. Operational data is gathered from motor-driven systems in the field, and this is compared with the theoretical performance that could be achieved by adding a VSD (variable-speed drive), or resizing or modernising the equipment.

The motors audited in the survey included low- and medium-voltage machines in applications such as pumps and fans in industries including food and beverage, chemical processing, energy and HVAC. The appraisals revealed consistent patterns in performance for different motor-driven applications, with fans typically offering the largest energy savings. Further analysis also showed that the biggest opportunities are for motors operating without VSDs.

“With the world debating how to fight climate change at COP28, our results show that it is possible to do the right thing for the planet, as well as for businesses,” says Erich Labuda, president of ABB’s Motion Services business. “Finding an average of 31% energy savings across 2,000 motors shows that electric motor-driven systems are a great untapped opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon society.”

Substantial energy and monetary savings are possible by adopting high-efficiency technologies such as synchronous reluctance motors

ABB says that at least half of the 300 million-plus industrial electric motors in use around the world are older than 20 years, and have been superseded by more modern high-efficiency technologies. The survey shows the huge potential these offer for saving energy and cutting CO2 emissions.

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