ABB joins United Nations program to promote energy efficiency

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ABB, a Swiss manufacturer of of transformers, electric motors and variable-speed drives, announced at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York yesterday that it is joining the United Nations Environment Programme’s global action on improving appliance and equipment efficiency. The company will provide expertise on energy efficient motors and transformers to help governments devise policies that accelerate energy savings.

In a first phase, ABB will share know-how related to energy efficiency in motors and transformers, including its experience with current policies, regulations and standards, and advice on potential applications for the best available technologies.. The United Nations Environment Programme expects that the global transition to efficient appliances and equipment would reduce global electricity consumption by about 1,500 TWh by 2030, which is equivalent to 8% of today’s global electricity use.

“ABB is excited to be part of the United Nations initiative and to contribute to decoupling economic growth from energy consumption and emissions,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, C.E.O. of ABB. “ Many cost- and energy-efficient technologies are already available. The biggest contribution that governments and businesses can make to fighting climate change in the short term is to drive the implementation of existing, tested and often low-cost technologies for using energy more efficiently.”

Electric motors account for about 28% of global electricity consumption, according to ABB. Many motors are bigger than they need to be and most are running at full speed, even when they do not have to. Energy savings quickly add up when high-efficiency motors are used in combination with devices that adapt their speed to the task at hand – known as variable-speed drives – because the energy used to run a motor over its lifetime costs 100 times more than the motor itself. Investing in a high-efficiency motor typically has an internal rate of return that is more than 100% higher than for a standard motor.

For their part, transformers account for about 3% of global electricity consumption and their number in emerging markets is set to almost triple by 2030. Since the most efficient transformers consume 80% less electricity than the least efficient, ABB believes that the opportunities for savings are vast.

 -Bill O’Leary

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