ABB Urges Greater Adoption of High-efficiency Motors and Drives

Increased usage could combat climate change and reduce global electricity consumption by 10%.

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In its white paper “Achieving the Paris Agreement: The Vital Role of High-Efficiency Motors and Drives in Reducing Energy Consumption,” ABB reveals the potential for significant energy-efficiency improvements in industry and infrastructure enabled by the latest and most high-efficiency motors and variable speed drives. ABB also calls on governments and industry to accelerate adoption of the technology to help combat climate change.

Motor and drive technologies have seen exceptionally rapid advancement in the past decade, with today’s innovative designs delivering remarkable energy efficiencies. However, a significant number of industrial electric motor-driven systems in operation today—in the region of 300 million globally—are inefficient or consume much more power than required, resulting in monumental energy wastage.

Independent research estimates that if these systems were replaced with optimized, high-efficiency equipment, the gains to be realized could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10%. In turn, this would account for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the 2040 climate goals established by the Paris Agreement.

“The importance of transitioning industries and infrastructure to these highly energy-efficient drives and motors to play their part in a more sustainable society cannot be overstated,” says Morten Wierod, president ABB Motion. “With 45% of the world’s electricity used to power electric motors in buildings and industrial applications, investment in upgrading them will yield outsized rewards in terms of efficiency.”

ABB frequently assesses the net impact of its own installed high-efficiency motors and drives on global energy efficiency. In 2020, it enabled 198 terawatt-hours of electricity savings—more than half of the UK’s annual consumption. By 2023, it is estimated that ABB motors and drives will enable customers globally to save an additional 78 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, almost as much as the annual consumption of Belgium, Finland, or the Philippines and more than the total annual consumption of Chile.

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