ABB electric drives save a record 310 million megawatt hours in 2011

ABB Australia Pty Ltd
Thursday, 14 June, 2012

Power and automation technology group 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 were saved by ABB drives in 2011, an increase of 19% compared with the previous year.

Electric drives are used to regulate the speed and power consumption of electric motors, which are widely used in industry. Examples include pumping water, running fans and air conditioning, conveying goods over belts, rolling steel, moving elevators, etc. Industrial electric motors account for about 25% of all the electricity consumed worldwide.

ABB’s electric drive systems are widely used on mine hoist applications and have improved the energy efficiency of mining operations in all major mining centres of the world, including Australia.

The savings from ABB drives in 2011 correspond to 260 million tonnes of CO2 emissions - if the power is generated by fossil fuels - or electricity cost savings of approximately $34 billion for customers (at 2011 US electricity prices). These savings are equivalent to the electricity generated by more than 30 nuclear power station blocks, or six times the annual power consumption of every Australian household.

“The future potential for energy and cost savings is enormous since only about 10% 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.”

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% 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. 

ABB provides power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people.

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