24 Jul 2024


Drives can repay their environmental costs in half a day

Finnish researchers have found that in just half a day’s use, a variable speed drive can compensate for the environmental cost of its own manufacture and eventual disposal.

The study, carried out by ABB in co-operation with Tampere University of Technology, looked at how long drives of different sizes need to be used before they start to make a positive contribution to the environment.

The ecological payback was calculated for three ABB drives rated at 0.75, 7.5 and 250kW. The 0.75kW drive compensated for its global warming potential in six days, the 7.5kW drive took 1.1 days, and the 250kW drive took just half a day to reduce emissions enough to compensate for the carbon impact of its manufacturing and disposal.

After that, the drive continues to benefit the environment by cutting emissions throughout its lifetime. ABB says that a typical industrial drive will provide a total lifetime savings of around 7,500MWh, or 3,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

The ecological payback time is important for organisations working to reduce their carbon footprints. A new installation will only start to make a positive contribution to the environment after it has compensated for its own production and disposal.

“Investment calculations today are based on financial payback time,” points out Steve Ruddell, ABB’s UK energy spokesperson and general manager of its drives and motors business. “Companies normally want their money back in two years or less.

“I believe that in five years’ time, there will have been a sea-change in the way companies look at investment decisions and they will be just as keen to save CO2 as they are saving money today,” he adds. “Our study shows that using VSDs is one of the most cost-effective measures to achieve rapid and radical CO2 reductions.”