AEMT - Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades

26 October 2021
Opinion - Keeping the world in motion – sustainably
Morten Wierod, President at ABB Motion believes high-efficiency motors and drives are central to the world’s invisible climate solution.

In July this year, the EU Ecodesign regulation 2019/1781 for low-voltage induction motors and variable speed drives came into effect, paving the way for millions of motor-driven applications to reduce their energy consumption.

Although electric motors consume about 45% of global electricity, they are often not seen while in use. The issue is that too many motor-driven systems in use are inefficient, which is why ABB is working with customers, partners, academia and governments to raise awareness of just how much energy high-efficiency motors and drives can save. Solutions available from ABB today surpass the regulatory demands that recently came into effect and those scheduled for July 2023, when the Ecodesign regulation expands further.

THE INVISIBLE NETWORK AROUND US

“Electric motion touches your life several times a day, even though you’re not aware of it,” explains Morten. “Motors and drives are ever-present, from ensuring that clean water reaches your home and running trains, to building, construction and the production of the food you eat.

“So, all around us, and across the world, there are more than 300 million motors, drive systems and sub-systems that are installed, enabling the quality of life that we all want.”

ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN A BOX

“The electric motor uses and controls electromagnetic fields to create the movement to make it turn. The variable speed drive is probably less well known in the general public, but I call it a box of energy efficiency. Inside the box sits power semiconductors and electronics used together with software to create the correct speeds and torque to control the motor, a much more efficient method than the previously common practice of using brakes to control the speed.

“In that way, you’re able to save from 25 to 40%, even 50% of energy compared to running a motor at full speed as we would do without any speed control.”

WHY THE EU ECODESIGN REGULATION IS IMPORTANT

One of the key elements to achieve sustainability goals and targets in cities is energy efficiency, which can be significantly impacted by motor and drive technology.

“I believe industrial energy efficiency has the single greatest capacity for combating the climate emergency”

“I’m happy to see good progress with the energy levels of what we call IE3 being valid from July 1st 2021 and moving to IE4, which is the next level of energy efficiency in 2023. But we can do much more because new technologies are already available.” Indeed, ABB has motor and drive solutions that meet the IE5 efficiency class – the highest level of efficiency met by any design to date.

“During 2020, ABB’s installed base of high-efficiency motors and drives enabled 198 terawatthours of electricity savings, which is more than three times the total annual consumption of Switzerland. By 2023, it is estimated that the expansion of our installed base of motors and drives will help customers save an additional 78 terawatt-hours of electricity per year – more than the annual consumption of Chile.

“I believe industrial energy efficiency has the single greatest capacity for combating the climate emergency. It is essentially the world’s invisible climate solution. With high-efficiency motors and drives that power most of the critical process around us, we can keep the world turning while saving energy every day.” 

Morten Wierod’s comments were taken from the ABB Decoded podcast titled “How ABB motors and drives help keep the world sustainably in motion”, which can be accessed at bit.ly/ABBDs1e7

In this story: ABB - MOTION
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