How important is it for businesses to prioritise energy efficiency?
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How important is it for businesses to prioritise energy efficiency?

How important is it for businesses to prioritise energy efficiency?

It is vital to help stakeholders across the industry understand that we need to invest to reach net zero, says Ahmed Radwan, lead business manager – MEA – Motion Business at ABB

energy efficiency

How important is it for businesses to prioritise energy efficiency, especially in light of the urgency to mitigate climate change impact and rising energy costs?

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the world must achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This will be a challenge particularly when the global population is expected to grow by two billion and the global economy is expected to double. This growth will increase the energy demand, however, critical processes can’t stop, so instead, they need to become more energy efficient.

If governments don’t intensify their efforts to mitigate the effects of significant population and economic growth, climate change will accelerate to a critical point. Growing urbanisation and rising geopolitical tension will also make energy security and sustainability even more important. Improving energy efficiency is an essential strategy to address these potential crises.

Therefore, the acceleration in investment highlighted by this survey is positive news. Industrial motor-driven systems, in particular, hold huge potential for energy efficiency measures. Almost two-thirds of the survey respondents are upgrading their equipment to best-in-class efficiency ratings, such as high-efficiency electric motors controlled by variable speed drives.

It is vital to help stakeholders across the industry understand that we need to invest to reach Net Zero. Everyone has a role to play; suppliers, governments, academia, design offices, investors, and end users – in promoting the message that adopting energy-efficient technologies offer a fast return on investment while cutting CO2 emissions should be strengthened. Investors should allocate funds to support energy-efficient products and services.

Design offices need to specify and governments need to regulate and authorise standards and practices, as well as technologies that would save energy. It is obvious that energy efficiency sits at the heart of sustainability strategies.

Can you speak about the role of technology in improving energy efficiency, and how ABB is leveraging technology to drive this movement forward?

Our technology for high-efficiency motors, paired with variable-speed drives, is designed to be flexible and reliable. Yet above all, they are extremely energy-efficient, offering significant reductions in power consumption compared with older systems. Their importance in helping achieve a sustainable future cannot be overstated.

Since 45 per cent of the world’s electricity is used to power electric motors in buildings and industrial applications, any investment in upgrading the equipment used in these systems will yield significant rewards in terms of efficiency, CO2 reductions and sustainability.

Only 23 per cent of the world’s motors are equipped with a drive – that figure should be closer to 50 per cent. Adding a drive to an existing motor of a pump, fan, or compressor, can typically reduce power consumption by at least 25 per cent. When combined, energy-efficient motor and drive technologies can have a major impact.

If the 300 million industrial motor-driven systems currently in operation globally were replaced with optimised, high-efficiency equipment, we could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10 per cent. One very significant development is the synchronous reluctance motor (SynRM), which works together with a variable speed drive. Synchronous reluctance motors can be used as drop-in replacements for standard IE3 induction motors and reduce energy losses in the motor by up to 40 per cent.

With the advent of digital solutions, we have created several plug-and-play solutions that are more geared toward business-to-consumer interactions. Because it is so simple to attach these solutions to a motor and gather data, you don’t need to be an engineer to use them. We can tell you the potential savings, the potential ROI of several options, and how you could improve your solution after three to six months, depending on how this is run.

What are some steps and measures that are being taken or can be taken to combat the high energy consumption by the iron, steel, chemical and petrochemical industries?

Electric motors are the workhorses of industrial applications. From mills, kilns, and fans used for various applications in the steel industry to all types of compression stations in the chemical and petrochemical industries as well as pumps and extruder applications, run with motors and drives and are extremely critical in industrial processes. Using high-efficiency motors while using best-fit variable speed drives coupled with digital services could unlock potential energy savings in specific applications by up to 25 per cent.

Digital oilfield is a concept that combines business process management with digital technologies to automate workflows for maximising productivity, reducing costs, and minimising the overall risks associated with oil and gas operations.

Intelligent artificial lift systems use real-time data provided by variable speed drives and sensors combined with tailored algorithms to make proactive process adjustments. This approach is a step in implementing the digital oilfield concept that will eventually use digital devices and communications to optimise a variety of oil production tasks. It can increase oil in-flow by up to 50 per cent, with a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption.

All industries should accelerate their actions to limit their CO2 emissions. Energy saving is instrumental in this and supports the delivery of sustainability objectives. As we speak, we are going through an energy transition and are in the middle of an energy crisis in different parts of the world. Therefore, we strongly recommend that all industries should be future-focused to become more reliable, greener and more efficient “now”.

How can we mitigate the exorbitant electricity demand for cooling, especially as temperatures around the world are continuing to rise, particularly in places like the Middle East?

As of today, space cooling represents 70 per cent of peak residential electricity demand on the hottest days in some countries. By 2050, electricity demand for cooling is expected to triple. The argument for increasing energy efficiency measures is strong.

Correct selection and sizing of the drive, pump and motor combination for the specific application are crucial in achieving the highest overall efficiency for the entire operations, especially in perfectly matching pump speeds with real-time demand.

The ABB drives have built-in software to precisely monitor energy consumption, analyse data and see at which frequency they are operated during peak hours. This key data, which is easily available to the plant operation managers, enable adjustments for lowering the frequency to save energy.

Harmonics are an important issue in the UAE. In the future, it is expected that penalties for harmonic distortions introduced into the power network in the UAE will be applied by the electric utility.

Low-harmonic drives enable us to maintain a better power factor, while also ensuring that we don’t distort the overall network. UAE is distinguished from the District Cooling industry and was the first to mandate energy-efficient solutions and specific standards for that segment to make it very efficient and more environment-friendly.

Energy-efficient motors with variable speed drives offer significant energy savings in District Cooling applications to help operate in a much more reliable and efficient way. Adopting flexible automation and digital solutions helps in better and faster decision-making that supports energy conservation.

Can you tell us more about the Energy Efficiency Movement launched by ABB UAE and what inspired the company to start this initiative?

We launched the Energy Efficiency Movement as a multi-stakeholder initiative to raise awareness and spur action to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions, and combat climate change. The movement is a global forum where we invite companies from all over the world to join and make a public pledge as a way of inspiring others to act in the fight against climate change.

At ABB, we believe that energy efficiency plays an important role in achieving Net Zero carbon emissions. The inevitability of the coming climate crisis prompted us to invite all industrial businesses – even our competitors – to join in order to make a difference.

In the UAE, we held a symposium with key industry and infrastructure leaders. With businesses around the world facing unprecedented pressure from the rising cost of energy and the urgency to mitigate the impact of climate change, it was crucial to have a discussion with relevant UAE market players in this regard.

We are inspired by innovation and lead by pioneering technologies to enable a lower-carbon society and preserve resources. As a result, we want people to know that the technology is out there for us to be able to create a more efficient future.

Read: Improving data centre power consumption and energy efficiency

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