The incorporation of variable speed drives (VSDs) has the potential of saving the UK industry up to £2,512 million in energy costs, according to Siemens Financial Services’ (SFS) new report; which predicts Germany, Europe’s industrial colossus, could save upwards of £5,913 million.
Traditionally, to change a motors speed of operations, the accepted method was ‘chocking’ the constant speed; consuming significant amounts of electricity. In comparison, VSDs optimise the voltage and frequency supply to an industrial motor in order to change the speed, greatly reducing that consumption.
SFS estimates that, in Europe, around 70 percent of the total industrial electricity consumption is derived from electric motor-driven systems. Bearing in mind that 95 percent of the lifetime expense of an industrial motor is the cost of electricity, and the argument for implementing VSDs begins to stack up.
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Head of Energy Efficiency Financing for SFS UK, Darren Riva commented:
“In light of the steady upward trajectory of electricity prices, greater energy efficiency is becoming an urgent concern for industrial organisations as escalating energy costs will erode profit margins and damage competitivnes.
“The magnitude of the estimated potential savings enabled by VSDs presents an extremely compelling business case for industrial companies to invest in this power-saving technology. More importantly, keeping in mind that VSD is just one of the many possible energy efficiency initiatives that industrial companies can adopt; the true potential for energy and cost savings in industry is very large indeed.”
“The uncertain economic situation in Europe and the restricted access to traditional finance have prompted many companies to defer their investment intentions. However, companies can easily overcome this financial barrier by using alternative methods to fund energy-efficient equipment upgrades.
“Asset financing techniques such as leasing and renting aim to offset the monthly cost of the new equipment against the energy savings it delivers across the financing term, effectively making the investment zero net cost or even cash positive.
“Even when a project cannot completely offset the equipment upgrade with energy-efficient cost savings, the financing arrangement can nevertheless subsidise the larger part of the upgrade cost. As up-to-date equipment may not only reduce energy costs but also boost productivity and extend manufacturing capability, leading to improved revenues and margin, manufacturers should leverage such alternative financing solutions to capture the significant potential cost savings hidden in the industrial processes.”
Though VSDs can’t be applied to all motors, over half of those currently being used could benefit from the technology, especially pumps, fans and centrifugal compressors, and to a lesser extent mixers, centrifuges, reciprocating compressors and extruders. Yet, the current penetration rate of VSD as a proportion of installed motors is still low.