Drives and Controls Magazine
Global survey reveals industry plans to invest in efficiency
Published:  04 May, 2022

Almost two thirds (65%) of industrial companies around the world are planning to upgrade the efficiency of their equipment to best-in-class technologies such as high-efficiency motors and variable-speed drives as they attempt to move towards net-zero emissions, according to a new survey carried out in 13 countries for ABB.

The survey of 2,294 companies, ranging in size from 500 to 5,000 or more employees, found that more than half (54%) are already investing in efficiency, while 40% are planning to make energy efficiency improvements this year. It also revealed that:
• 90% plan to increase their spending on efficiency over the coming five years, while 52% are hoping to achieve net-zero in the same period;
• on average, energy represents 23% of the respondents’ annual operating costs;
• almost all (90%) of those quizzed regard rising energy costs as at least a minor threat to profitability, while more than half (53%) perceive it as a moderate or substantial threat;
• half of the respondents (50%) regard cost as being the biggest barrier to improving their energy efficiency – in the UK and Germany, the figure is 56% – and 37% regard downtime as being a significant barrier;
• cost savings were cited by 59% as being the most important reason for investing in efficiency, followed closely by corporate commitments to sustainability (56%); and
• just over half (51%) of the companies surveyed are conducting energy audits to identify areas for improvement, with China topping the charts on 71%.

The survey was conducted by Sapio Research in February, before news of the latest rises in energy costs. Just over half (51%) of the companies surveyed were manufacturers, 20% were in the transportation sector, 11% in heavy industry and 10% in electricity generation.

“High-efficiency electric motors controlled by variable-speed drives need to be an integral part of modern industry as they make their net-zero journey,” comments Tarak Mehta, president of ABB Motion. “However, too many of the world’s electric motor-driven systems are outdated and inefficient.

“Investing in the latest energy-efficient technology represents a tremendous opportunity,” he adds. “Independent research points out that if the world’s 300 million industrial motor-driven systems were replaced with optimised, high-efficiency equipment, global electricity consumption could be reduced by 10%. This reduction equates to more than 90% of the entire EU’s annual consumption.”

Mehta: net-zero need not mean net-cost

Only 41% of those quizzed in the survey feel they have all the information they need regarding energy efficiency, with 8% reporting that they have struggled to gain meaningful information on energy efficiency from governments and third parties.

“It is vital to help stakeholders across industry understand that net-zero need not mean net-cost,” says Mehta. “Both suppliers and governments have a role to play in promoting the message that adopting energy-efficient technology offers a fast return on investment while cutting CO2 emissions. The bottom line is that energy efficiency is good for business and good for the environment.”

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