Improving industrial energy efficiency will play a vital role in reaching China’s carbon emissions reduction goals

ABB’s highly efficient electric motors and variable speed drives are effectively an invisible solution to help combat climate change in China.

China has set an ambitious target to combat climate change by speeding up reductions in emissions to reach carbon neutrality before 2060. The government has acknowledged that measures to improve energy efficiency will play a vital role in helping industry and infrastructure to reduce their emissions.

While mostly hidden from public view, electric motors are embedded in almost every built environment. They power a vast range of applications fundamental to modern life. China has recognized the importance of efficient electric motors as a matter of policy, with a new national standard requiring motors to have a minimum efficiency level of IE3 coming into effect on June 1, 2021.

“As one of the earliest countries to sign the Paris Agreement, China has made a strong commitment to address climate change,” said Morten Wierod, President ABB Motion. “This latest legislation on electric motor efficiency is an important new step in driving down emissions. Fortunately, the technology needed to help achieve these goals already exists as ABB Motion in China has produced IE3 motors since 2013 and IE5 motors since 2020. We urge the rapid, widespread adoption of the latest motor technologies to reduce energy consumption as quickly as possible.”

Around 75 percent of industrial motors are used to run pumps, fans, and compressors, a category of machinery that is highly susceptible to major efficiency improvements. The optimum effect is achieved when a high-efficiency motor is paired with a variable speed drive that adjusts the speed and torque. The motor runs only as fast as is called for by the application, leading to significant energy savings.

“ABB in China aims to lead by example. That’s why we are determined to achieve carbon neutrality in our own operations by 2030. However, we know we can have a much higher impact by enabling our customers to reduce their own emissions,” said LuPing Qi, President ABB Motion China. “That is why we encourage the uptake of variable speed drives. Because when added to an existing motor they typically reduce power consumption by at least 25 percent.”

From 2010 to the end of 2020, ABB Motion in China delivered over 10 million drives and high efficiency motors. They have helped achieve accumulated energy savings of more than 475 billion kWh, equivalent to all the electricity consumed by Beijing over a four-year period.

A typical example of how ABB is helping customers to save energy is the Dongguan UCE Circuit Board Equipment Co., Ltd. Over 3000 variable speed drives and 5500 IE5 motors have been supplied for fan and pump applications, saving more than 28.7 million kWh of energy a year - equal to the annual consumption of more than 9,300 average Beijing households.

ABB China Motion– Leading by example in its own operations

In 2020, the ABB drives factory in Beijing was listed as a national “green factory”’ by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and its Shanghai site was awarded the title of "Advanced Green Manufacturing Enterprise" by Minhang Economic Development Zone. The certification recognizes ABB’s commitment to sustainability by using innovative processes to achieve low-carbon, energy-efficient manufacturing.

Energy efficiency initiatives include a solar PV system on the factory’s roof that generates 3.1 million kWh of electricity a year. A smart building management system and ABB’s own drives and motors used in operations also save about 1.6 million kWh of electricity annually. Furthermore, using ABB drives in motor testing and feeding the energy back to the grid is saving about 3 million kWh, while adopting innovative approaches for testing drives has reduced power consumption by 50 percent.

A global initiative that could cut electricity consumption by 10 percent

ABB is not only targeting energy efficiency in China. It is behind a worldwide movement. Globally, there are around 300 million industrial electric motor-driven systems in operation. Many are inefficient or consume much more power than required, resulting in significant energy wastage. Independent research estimates that if these systems were replaced with optimized, high-efficiency equipment, global electricity consumption could be reduced by up to 10 percent.

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ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 105,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.


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