Sponsored: How can energy efficient electric motors combat climate change?

Earth Day 2021 puts climate change in sharp focus.

As a planet, we must work together to reduce energy consumption and our reliance on natural resources. We know what needs to be done; reduce greenhouse gas emissions whether that is in manufacturing, global agriculture, water management and even in the way we heat our buildings.

Whilst there are many potential solutions to help us achieve this, industrial energy efficiency promises to be one of the most effective – and within this, high-efficiency electric motors we believe hold the key. This year’s Earth Day falls on April 22, a date when world climate leaders, activists, non-profits, thought leaders, industry leaders, and the leaders of tomorrow will come together to help campaign for a better world.

For all the world’s initiatives in renewables, electrification and infrastructure, there is one area that is often overlooked - energy efficiency. Yet it is, in many respects, an invisible climate solution and why at ABB, we are asking the industry to join us as part of the Energy Efficiency Movement

Approximately 45 percent of the world’s electricity is used to power electric motors in buildings and industrial applications. You can find motors in every imaginable built environment, including heavy industry, food and beverage, water and wastewater, and in the large buildings where we work or live.  So, it makes sense that electric motor systems are the best starting point to improve efficiency.

There are two important issues. The first is regulatory with many motors failing to meet the latest International Efficiency (IE) standards and regulations such as Ecodesign (in the European Union) – but the solutions and technology are available – indeed, we have developed them. The second issue is that even highly efficient motors are often operated inefficiently – they run at full speed all the time, regardless of the actual load. But, by using variable speed drives (VSDs) the motor speed can be adjusted to meet demand – saving energy.

Variable frequency drive

Research suggests that if the 300 million electric motor-driven systems in active service around the world today were replaced with optimised, high-efficiency equipment, we could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10 percent.

Solutions are available, in use today and already making a real impact. For example, motors based on synchronous reluctance (SynRM) technology can achieve the highest energy efficiency level. To help maximise efficiency, our SynRM motors and drives have been designed to work perfectly as a packaged solution, so that no matter the application or industry, they deliver greater efficiency – up to 40% lower energy losses than regular motors (IE3). The SynRM Motors and drives provide customers with the springboard to reducing emissions.

More efficient motors can have a big impact. We estimate that replacing 80 percent of the world’s installed motors with SynRM motors would save 160 terawatt-hours of energy per year - more than the annual power consumption of Poland.

The innovative rotor design means that the SynRM motor has a low running temperature meaning better energy efficiency, reduced servicing and lower risk of failure. Furthermore, it runs much more quietly than a traditional induction motor, resulting in a more comfortable working environment for operators. Because its external dimensions and output power are the same as equivalent standard motors, the SynRM package is perfect for motor refit projects.

To illustrate the practical difference that a SynRM package can make, we can look to the world-famous food and beverage manufacturer, Campbells – a brand most would recognise from the iconic posters. They wanted to implement a sustainability strategy for one of their plants in Australia after committing to reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

By working with ABB, Campbells achieved this goal. After replacing the old inefficient motors in existing compressors and cooling systems with modern SynRM motor and drive packages the plant reduced its energy consumption by 14 percent and CO2 emissions by 131 tons per year. We are now working with Campbells to optimise other plants around the globe.

If we do not tackle climate change now, then it could literally cost us the earth. Continuous innovation and the pioneering use of technology is key to reducing emissions – we need to embrace the technology of tomorrow – today. I am proud that we already have this technology already working and delivering around the globe.

Adopting energy efficient electric motor systems doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, the savings in energy bills alone means a very fast payback time, while the benefits for the environment will last forever – and no industry or community can begin to put a cost on this.




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