ABB has released its annual estimate of the savings achieved by its installed base of drives. About 310 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electric power was saved by ABB drives in 2011, an increase of 19 percent compared with the previous year. Electric drives are used to regulate the speed and power consumption of electric motors. Industrial electric motors account for about 25 percent of all the electricity consumed worldwide.
The savings from ABB drives in 2011 correspond to 260 million tons of CO2 emissions had this power been generated by fossil fuels or electricity costs savings of approximately $34 billion for customers. At 2011 U.S. electricity prices, these savings are equivalent to the electricity generated by around 41 nuclear reactors, or to the annual power consumption of 75 million EU households.
“The future potential for energy and cost savings is enormous since only about 10 percent of industrial motors are combined currently with electric drives,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, member of the Group Executive committee and head of ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division. “Using energy more efficiently will remain, for a significant time, the biggest opportunity available to cut energy consumption as well as costs and emissions.”
Electric motors are used widely in industry, for example, when pumping water, running fans and air conditioning, conveying goods over belts, rolling steel, moving elevators, etc. ABB’s annual savings estimate is based on a comparison of the average electricity consumption in applications with and without drives. Many electric motors that are not equipped with drive technology run at maximum speed and are simply throttled if less performance is needed. Energy accounts for 92 to 95 percent of the life cycle cost of a motor, depending on its size, so an investment in electric drives typically pays back in less than two years.