BUSINESS

Path to sustainable future is energy efficiency revolution

November 24, 2023
Erich Labuda, President of the Motion Service Division at ABB.
Erich Labuda, President of the Motion Service Division at ABB.

The global push for sustainable practices has intensified, with industries recognizing the pivotal role they play in reducing carbon emissions. In the energy sector, a key focus is on optimizing electric motor systems, which account for a substantial portion of industrial electricity consumption.

An estimated 70 per cent of all the electricity consumed by industry is used by electric motor systems. However, many motors work inefficiently and use more energy than they need, contributing to CO2 emissions, says Erich Labuda, President of the Motion Service Division at ABB.

In an exclusive interview, Labuda emphasized the need to address inefficiencies in motor-driven systems. He said, “By tackling inefficient electric motors, industry and building owners in the Kingdom can reduce energy consumption, cutting emissions and energy bills at the same time. We help operators pinpoint their least efficient motors with our digital energy efficiency audits.”

“An energy efficiency audit gives a detailed insight into the power consumption of motor-driven applications. This used to require an energy efficiency expert to manually gather data. Today, digital technology can gather data across fleets of hundreds of motors. By installing sensors in the field or pulling data from variable speed drives (VSDs), we can recommend the best and most cost-effective solutions that enable upgrades to be carried out with minimal disruption to operations,” he added.

Labuda explained, “Many customers in Saudi run motors using the traditional direct online (DOL) method. This uses soft starters to start up motors before controlling their speed with mechanical throttling, much like controlling the speed with the brake of a car with a fully depressed accelerator,” he said. “In Saudi, we are upgrading DOL motors with VSDs. This produces direct energy savings, improving process control, and cutting energy bills. These energy savings will achieve a payback of just 2.5 years and reduce the equivalent CO2 emissions by 494 tons per year.”

He highlighted the importance of aligning strategy with operations, saying, “According to a recent independent survey, unplanned downtime costs industrial businesses in Saudi Arabia SAR 732,000 per hour, compared to SAR 468,000 globally.”

Delving into maintenance strategies, Labuda further said, “The most basic approach is reactive maintenance. Technicians fix equipment when it fails – 20 per cent of industrial businesses here do this. Time-based maintenance provides protection against unplanned outages. Technicians carry out scheduled inspections and repairs. The third way is condition-based maintenance. Data is gathered and analyzed to trigger maintenance when needed.”

“Outcome-based service is the newest approach. An industrial business appoints a service partner to achieve specific outcomes, such as uptime, energy savings or even spare parts availability. This has the benefit of aligning front-line operations with overall business strategy. According to our survey, 87 per cent of respondents would be interested in adopting an outcome-based approach,” he added.

Reflecting on real-world examples, Labuda shared, “Renewable energy producer, Statkraft’s site, the Lister Drive Greener Grid Park in the UK can integrate a large quantity of renewable energy onto the grid. Our local field services experts proactively take action to guarantee a high level of availability of critical systems. In turn, Statkraft has greater certainty and can focus on strategic management of the site and meeting customer needs.”

Erich spoke about exploring further steps for Saudi industrial plant managers to utilize technologies effectively. “We provide customized service agreements covering motors, generators, and VSDs. Our certified technicians can support regular inspection and maintenance, deliver upgrades and lifetime extensions, and carry out workshop servicing at our facility.”

Providing an example, he stated, “Saudi Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has adopted digitally-enabled VSDs to control the speed of pump motors at its desalination plant in Jubail. They save 30-60 per cent energy and provide real-time data that enables SWCC to take proactive decisions.”

Addressing sustainability strategies, Labuda outlined ABB's role in supporting Saudi industrial companies. “The first step towards a sustainability goal is knowing what can be done so we are currently raising awareness through a series of energy efficiency symposiums. We’re also visiting our customers’ sustainability teams at their sites to discuss potential actions, run studies and provide costed options that show the expected energy savings and return on investment.”

Labuda shared his vision for ABB's role in promoting a low-carbon future in Saudi Arabia. He remarked, “ABB’s Motion Services division helps industrial companies maximize uptime, extend product life, enhance performance, and boost the energy efficiency of motors, generators, and drives. We aim to further grow awareness about energy efficiency solutions and be a leading contributor towards the ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.”

With over 70 years of presence in Saudi Arabia, ABB has been at the forefront of providing solutions that enhance energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and support the ‘Saudi Vision 2030’.


November 24, 2023
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