Vice President of Motion Business, ABB Canada
Achieving widespread sustainability in industry requires thought leadership, stakeholder collaboration, and a commitment to action.
While there has been a lot of discussion about steps that households can take to reduce their energy bills, the significant potential for energy efficiency and cost improvements in industry has received less attention. With new energy security challenges and growing pressure to rein in carbon emissions, this under-exploited opportunity of industrial energy efficiency is taking on increased urgency.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) regards energy efficiency improvements as essential to a sustainable future. The agency estimates that globally adopted energy efficiency measures could reduce energy use by seven per cent by 2030 while still enabling the economy to grow by 40 per cent. These measures can have an almost immediate impact using existing, readily available technology, such as variable speed drives paired with high-efficiency electric motors.
Achieving energy efficiency improvements in this area requires a new level of leadership, collaboration, and cooperation. Technology leader ABB Canada is one company answering the call for action.
The need to act
“When we look at the global challenges that we’re facing as a society, we cannot stay passive. There’s a need to act now,” says Daniel Cotton, Vice President of Motion Business at ABB Canada, an innovative company with a history of excellence stretching back over 100 years. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, and with more than 100,000 employees worldwide, ABB helps companies in sectors like manufacturing, energy, and transportation automate their business processes, switch from fossil fuels to electric power, and optimize operations through technology.
The company’s long heritage, deep industrial know-how, and global presence give ABB a unique vantage on the opportunities and challenges companies face when it comes to optimizing how energy is used. “As industry leaders, we need to be ambassadors for sustainability, climate action, and energy efficiency,” he says.
As industry leaders, we need to be ambassadors for sustainability, climate action, and energy efficiency.
“There are three important elements to consider,” observes Cotton. “First, how can we enable a low-carbon society? Second, how can we preserve our resources? And third, how can we work together to promote and enable societal progress?”
According to Cotton, enabling a low-carbon society means reducing industry’s carbon footprint or, ideally, reaching net-zero emissions. This can be achieved through the use of more efficient electric motors (which represent 45 per cent of all electricity used in the world), the use of variable speed drives, automation and control of HVAC in buildings, electrifying transport, and other processes. Preserving resources — rather than simply finding new ways to create energy — is also an essential consideration. “The greenest energy is the energy we never use,” notes Cotton. And working together to drive change is the most important ingredient.
Raising awareness and promoting action
ABB is dedicated to raising awareness of how efficiency can contribute to achieving net zero, which is why it launched the Energy Efficiency Movement in 2021, a global forum that brings together like-minded stakeholders to innovate and act for a more energy-efficient world. ABB has invited all industrial businesses — even its competitors — to join, and in February, the Movement welcomed its 300th member organization, establishing a critical mass of companies committed to the pursuit of carbon-neutral operations.
As well as inspiring others, a key aim is to gather hard evidence in the form of case studies that demonstrate the potential for reducing carbon emissions and cutting business costs. The movement fosters networking, collaboration, and partnership, and activates ABB’s ecosystem and business partners to influence change.
In November, the Energy Efficiency Movement published “The industrial energy efficiency playbook” as a guide for executives concerned with rising energy bills and how to draw down emissions. The playbook presents research results from interviews with energy efficiency subject matter experts, including key Energy Efficiency Movement partners like the IEA, Alfa Laval, DHL Group, and Microsoft, on how to tackle these challenges. It presents 10 actions that companies can take to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs, and lower carbon emissions — right now. “The word ‘now’ is very important,” notes Cotton. “We understand the urgency.”
The action items include auditing operations for energy efficiency, right-sizing industrial assets and processes, bringing connectivity to physical assets, installing high-efficiency motors, using variable speed drives (which can improve the energy efficiency of a motordriven system by up to 30 per cent, yielding immediate cost and emissions benefits), electrifying industrial fleets, using efficient and well-maintained heat exchangers, switching gas boilers to heat pumps, deploying smart building management systems, and moving data to the cloud.
“With recent technology advances in energy efficiency, the improvement potential in industry is significant and readily available,” says Cotton. “So, rather than turning the lights off and halting production to save money, this important new report provides practical steps executives can take to reduce energy use and their bills while maintaining current operations.”
A cleaner, greener world is within reach. Join the Energy Efficiency Movement today at join.energyefficiencymovement.com.