Canadian Manufacturing

ABB joins UN equipment efficiency initiative

The industrial equipment company says there is vast opportunity to improve energy efficiency with available technology

September 23, 2014  by Canadian Staff

NEW YORK—Industrial automation and power technology company ABB today announced that it is joining the United Nations Environment Programme’s global action on improving appliance and equipment efficiency.

ABB will provide expertise on energy efficient motors and transformers to help governments devise policies that accelerate energy savings.

“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,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB.

Electric motors account for about 28 per cent of global electricity consumption. Many motors are bigger than they need to be and most are running at full speed, even when they don’t have to.


Energy savings quickly add up when high-efficiency motors are used in combination with variable-speed drives—devices that adapt their speed to the task at hand—because the energy used to run a motor over its lifetime costs 100 times more than the motor itself.

ABB said that investing in high-efficiency motors typically has an internal rate of return that is more than 100 per cent higher than for a standard motor.

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

In a first phase, ABB will share its knowledge 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.

ABB is one of the world’s largest makers of transformers, electric motors and variable-speed drives. The installed base of ABB drives saved more than 400 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2013, equal to the annual consumption of about 37 million households in the US.

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 per cent of today’s global electricity use.