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Everyone can make a difference

31 March 2021

For those of you old enough to remember the 1980s sitcom ‘Yes Minister’, I’m sure that much of the satire still rings true today. One particular scene sees two civil servants outline how to approach political problems thus: Stage one, we say nothing is going to happen; Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it; Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do; Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.

Thankfully, in the case of climate change, despite some opposing views, we have moved beyond stages one to three and are now acknowledging the problems and working towards finding solutions. Yet, as we head towards the Cop 26 event in Glasgow towards the end of the year, there is still the danger that we might slip into stage four. Understandably, for some, the sheer scale of the challenge makes it seem insurmountable  - what difference can we as individuals, or individual companies really make?

Well, as it turns out, there is quite a lot that we can do, which will make a difference. Take for example the potential for significant energy efficiency improvements in industry and infrastructure enabled by the latest and most high-efficiency motors and variable speed drives, as identified in a recent white paper from ABB.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), industry accounts for 37% of global energy use and some 30% of global energy is consumed in buildings. Making significant inroads into this sector alone could be hugely beneficial.

According to ABB, motor and drive technologies have seen rapid advancement in the past decade, with today’s designs delivering remarkable energy efficiencies. However, a significant number of industrial electric motor-driven systems currently in operation – in the region of 300 million globally – are inefficient or consume much more power than required, resulting in monumental energy wastage.

Research estimates that if these systems were replaced with optimised, high-efficiency equipment, the gains to be realised could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10%. In turn, this would account for more than 40% of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the 2040 climate goals established by the Paris Agreement.

In order to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by energy efficient drives and motors in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ABB says all stakeholders have a critical role to play: public decision makers and government regulators need to incentivise rapid adoption; businesses, cities, and countries need to be aware of both the cost savings and environmental advantages and be willing to make the investment; and investors need to reallocate capital towards companies better prepared to address the climate risk.

If all this sounds like it might be a bit too involved for you, maybe just trying making the basic decision to specify the most energy efficient motors and drives wherever possible. It’s a simple policy that really will help save the world.