AMSTERDAM, November 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
Forty-five percent of all the electricity in the world is used for electric motors and pumps, ventilation and compressor systems. These motors and systems are often outdated and energy-inefficient. By optimising them and making them more efficient, the world could save more than 1350 TWh of electricity.
This would make the construction of 200 new coal-fired power plants unnecessary, the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) has calculated. 'We were surprised to discover that such a large proportion of global electricity consumption can be attributed to electric motors. More than 2.5 times as much electricity is used for electric motors and electrically driven systems than for lighting,' says researcher Jeffrey Sipma of ECN. 'There is a huge potential here for cost-effective and technically relatively simple energy-saving measures.'
Enormous savings can be achieved with relatively simple measures. To start with, older motors need to be replaced with more modern and efficient versions. This would reduce power consumption with 10% for smaller, and 5% for larger motors. A policy tool that could help governments achieve this, would be the Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS). More major savings can be achieved by installing variable speed drives in pumps, compressors and ventilation systems, by repairing leaks, by implementing a motor management system, replacing pumps or ventilators, or making various other technical and organisational improvements. The actual energy savings will always vary depending on the situation, but it can be predicted quite accurately with an Energy Audit. On average, reductions of 20% are expected for industrial systems and 15% for services. But this goes beyond the MEPS that target the electric motor only, in that to harvest the additional savings of this system approach one would need additional policy tools.
In light of the Paris climate deal, ECN sees plenty of opportunities for countries to achieve a considerable proportion of their sustainability goals by making electric motors more energy efficient. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), developing countries and emerging economies are in the best position to profit from this. UNEP has set up a task force to explore this, of which ECN is a member.
ECN is helping governments worldwide to design and implement road maps to optimise electric motors and electrically powered systems and make them more efficient. For example, ECN has been helping the Indonesian government to develop an action plan towards more efficient motors and systems in industry. 'We start with a road map. We identify the major industries that consume the most power and then make a list of priorities. We then get together with the national government to establish targets. We analyse the systems involved and at the same time try to raise awareness among the businesses themselves,' explains Sipma briefly. 'We also provide governments with advice on how to quantify, stimulate and finance the entire process.'
Various successes can already be mentioned. For example, one pharmaceutical company reduced the electricity consumption of its cooling water systems by 49%, amounting to annual cost savings of $80,000. A petrochemicals company installed 34 variable speed drives and reduced its electricity consumption by 28%. This investment was recouped in 5 months. A textiles factory reduced its electricity consumption by 59% by installing 15 variable speed drives for their ventilation systems and recouped this investment in just over a year.