“As the world looks to decarbonize industries and infrastructure the need to improve energy efficiency is more pressing than ever,” Morten Wierod, president of the ABB Motion Business Area, shared recently. As head of the company’s Motion business, which is the largest supplier of variable speed drives and electric motors globally, Morten brings insight as to how technology can help fight climate change. He also shared very encouraging news: The technology needed to significantly reduce energy consumption by electric motors is available today from ABB.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published figures that clearly illustrate the critical importance and impact increasing energy-efficiency of electric motor systems will have: Industry together with buildings account for 67 percent of global energy use and 52 percent of global CO2 emissions. Most of the electricity consumed by industry is needed for electric motor systems. Commercial buildings need almost 40 percent of electric energy for motors driving heating, air-conditioning, and pumping applications. Translating those figures into a real-word example: By implementing higher-efficiency products the entire annual electricity consumption of the Netherlands could be saved in the European Union (EU) alone.
On July 1, 2021, the European Union’s Ecodesign Regulation (EU) 2019/1781 for low-voltage direct-on-line operated induction motors and variable speed drives comes into full effect. The new regulation requires a wide range of motors to meet the IE3 efficiency class and the drives needed to control the speed and torque of motors to meet IE2. This latest regulation will pave the way for millions of motor driven applications to reduce their energy consumption. But this new regulation is only a step in a process of transition to even greater efficiency: in July 2023 the Ecodesign regulation expands even further, raising the base level for certain motors to IE4 efficiency class.
To better understand the significance of regulating motor efficiency standards, it is helpful to know what these different efficiency standards mean. An induction motor achieves an efficiency of more than 90 percent and is more efficient than any internal combustion engine powering a typical passenger car that is rarely better than 35 percent. An IE3 electric motor depending on the power and speed may achieve roughly as high as 96 percent efficiency while an IE4 motor achieves about 15 percent lower energy losses than an IE3 motor.
The technology available from ABB today even surpasses the regulatory demands now and two years from now. IE5 “ultra-premium efficiency” motors represent the highest level of efficiency that has been met by any current design yet. In practice, IE5 motors have 20 percent less losses compared to an IE4 motor. A perfect example of such an IE5 motor is ABB’s SynRM motor. Taking advantage of today’s available technology will not just bring users a step ahead of the regulations and reduce energy consumption, it will also save considerably amounts of money as ABB points out in its latest whitepaper: The difference in initial cost between an IE5 SynRM motor and an IE3 motor is negligible compared to the annual savings in energy costs. An IE5 motor package, comprising a motor and a variable speed drive will save energy and costs compared to the IE3 package as soon as it is operational, paying back the cost difference after about 13 months.
Clearly the impact of this latest EU regulation will be huge. For perspective, ABB’s recent energy efficiency study highlights that if the more than 300 million industrial motor-driven systems currently in operation were replaced with optimized, high-efficiency equipment, global electricity consumption could be reduced by up to 10 percent. That’s roughly 91 percent of the annual consumption of the entire EU.
Over the course of 2020, ABB’s installed base of high-efficiency motors and drives enabled 198 Terawatt-hours of electricity savings (or more than three times the total annual consumption of Switzerland). By 2023, it is estimated that the expansion of ABB’s installed base of motors and drives will enable customers to save an additional 78 Terawatt-hours of electricity per year, slightly more than the total annual consumption of Chile.
ABB’s solutions to increase energy efficiency of electric motor systems are available today. ABB aims to keep the world turning, while saving energy every day. It’s a simple and realistic goal that we can achieve together.