From June to September 2023, ABB analyzed more than 2,000 industrial electric motors under its Energy Appraisal service and has identified an average energy saving of 31%. That equates to more than 2.1 terawatt-hours (TWh) of potential energy savings across the 20-year lifetime of these systems.
Energy appraisals enable industrial businesses to pinpoint exactly where their biggest energy savings lie across fleets of motor-driven systems. They overcome the barrier that industrial companies face when deciding where to target investment for the best energy savings and return on investment (ROI).
Appraisals work by gathering operational data from motor-driven systems in the field. A service expert compares this with the theoretical performance that could be achieved by adding a variable speed drive (VSD), resizing or modernizing the equipment.
Improving energy efficiency enables businesses to reduce electricity consumption, with impressive CO2 savings and return on investment (ROI) that depend on each country's energy mix and cost.
For example, if all the motors audited were operating in the UAE, a 2.1 TWh energy saving would be equivalent to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and an ROI of six months. Alternatively, in Germany this would equate to a saving of 940,000 tonnes CO2 and an ROI of only three months**. These savings would be enough to offset the emissions of a coal plant for 2 months in Germany and 3 months in the UAE.
“With the world debating how to fight climate change at COP28 next week, our results show that it is possible to do the right thing for the planet, as well as for businesses," Erich Labuda, president of ABB’s Motion Services business, said. "Thus, 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."
With more than 300 million industrial electric motors in world, the results show potential to save energy and CO2 emissions, especially more than half of these are at least 20 years old and have been superseded by modern high-efficiency technology.
The motors audited serve multiple industries, including food and beverage, chemical processing, energy, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). They cover a range of low and medium voltage motor applications, such as pumps, fans and other systems.
The appraisals found consistent patterns in performance between different motor-driven applications, with fans typically offering the biggest energy savings. Further analysis also identified that the biggest opportunities are related to motors operating without a VSD. VSDs control the speed or torque of motors to precisely match the output with the demand, which reduces energy consumption.
These findings support “The Case for Industrial Energy Efficiency” recently published by the Energy Efficiency Movement. This report aims to give corporate leaders key insights into ten measures that rely on mature technologies, have a meaningful impact on costs and emissions and can be deployed quickly without complex or expensive projects.
* EU average (~1670 kWh/year)
** The ROIs are calculated at the current energy prices