Is energy efficiency really worth the investment?

green-motor

The upfront cost of investing in energy-efficiency solutions may deter some businesses from taking the plunge. There are many arguments that support this reluctance. Energy costs are indeed falling. Businesses in Germany are eligible for tax rebates on their energy supply. And, in the industrial sector, where electric motor systems account for 30% of global electricity consumption, it’s going to take a significant investment to upgrade motor efficiency class or install AC drives to optimize the efficiency of the motors.

On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate why energy efficiency is justifiably legislated, and that it does, in fact, have a considerable payback.

More information can certainly break down some of the barriers. Here’s a quick example. It’s a well-known fact that AC drives reduce the electricity consumption of motors under variable torque loading (for example, with fans and pumps). And the return on investment in AC drives can be as little as a matter of months. Copenhagen’s luxury business hotel, the elegant Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers insisted on state-of-the-art energy technology in its design. In order for energy consumption to be as low as possible, an innovative ground-water heating and cooling system equipped with AC drives was installed. You can read more about it here.

Energy savings through system optimization

There is a very high potential for energy savings through system optimization. Systems can be reconfigured, to work in a more efficient way, and drives are an important technology that is an enabler for these optimizations. As an example, here’s a case story about an electric shore supply system using VACON® NXP Air Cooled drives. The reduced energy costs and inherent reduction in leasing and maintenance costs thanks to the new system ensured that the investment paid for itself in less than 2 months.

In addition, AC drives can also be configured to run in regenerative mode where braking energy is fed back into the power supply instead of being lost as heat. You can read more about reduced energy costs achievable when using the VACON® NXP range of common DC bus drive products here.

So, we find ourselves in a catch 22 situation. Introducing energy efficiency measures requires investment. Sometimes the benefits outweigh the costs, sometimes not. The basic rule of thumb is to examine all aspects – technical, commercial and logistical – and take into account the entire lifecycle of the system.

– Every measure has side effects. Weigh up the side effects against the advantages
– Consider lifetime costs. A low-purchase cost doesn’t necessarily equate to low operating costs
– Wherever possible, consult experts, such as Danfoss Drives, to clarify the technical advantages and disadvantages of your investment

In times where energy efficiency is high on the political agenda and resources are getting scarce, it’s important to remember to save energy – but, for the sake of our businesses, not at any price. Let’s ensure that we make smart investments, ones that pay off for our industries and our societies and that create a better tomorrow for our future generations.

This blog post just scratches the surface of the topic of the viability of energy efficiency and the importance of AC drives in helping to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency. To learn more, read the full article on the Danfoss Drives website ‘Energy efficiency, for a better tomorrow driven by drives’.

Author: Norbert Hanigovszki, Project Manager, Danfoss Drives

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