Motor Energy Appraisals Reveal Significant Savings

Jan. 5, 2024
ABB’s energy reviews of industrial electric motors indicate potential 2.1 TWh lifetime savings.

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. 

The appraisals gathered 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. 

Motors audited in these appraisals were used in 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 and fans. The appraisals found consistent patterns in performance between different motor-driven applications, with fans typically offering the biggest energy savings. The analysis also identified that the biggest opportunities are related to motors operating without a VSD.

Energy appraisals, such as these conducted by ABB, enable industrial businesses to pinpoint exactly where their biggest energy savings lie across fleets of motor-driven systems. They also help overcome the barrier that industrial companies face when deciding where to target investment for the best energy savings and return on investment (ROI) calculated at the current energy prices. 

Based on these ABB appraisals, if all the motors audited were operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a 2.1 TWh energy saving would be equivalent to 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions and an ROI of six months. Alternatively, in Germany this would equate to a saving of 940,000 tons CO2 and an ROI of three months. These savings would be enough to offset the emissions of a coal plant for two months in Germany and three months in the UAE.

With more than 300 million industrial electric motors in world, the results show great potential to save energy and CO2 emissions, especially considering that more than half of the motors appraised were at least 20 years old and have been superseded by modern high-efficiency technology. 

“Our results show that it is possible to do the right thing for the planet, as well as for businesses. 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,” said Erich Labuda, president of ABB’s Motion Services business.

ABB’s 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 10 measures that rely on mature technologies, have a meaningful impact on costs and emissions and can be deployed quickly without complex or expensive projects.