Reduce motor speed, save energy

24 February 2010

If half of Britain’s electric motors were reduced in speed by 10 per cent the carbon emission savings would equate to that of 9.8 million cars, according to GAMBICA, the UK body representing automation and control manufacturers. That equates to one in three cars on UK roads.

GAMBICA says the simple control of electric motors has been overlooked as a significant energy conservation measure. While energy efficiency attention has tended to focus on building fabric, lighting and heating, motors have been largely ignored. By doing as GAMBICA suggests and controlling motors, a populace equivalent to nearly four million households would be rendered carbon neutral - at an average of 6.5 tonnes of emissions per household.

Similarly, long term consideration is given to reducing car exhaust emissions by both vehicle design and discouraging car use, yet the expedient of controlling electric motors in building and industry will achieve a greater net effect in the short term.

Likewise in electricity generation, where exploration of renewable and green energy continues apace while controlling electric motors would save the entire output of Drax, the UK's largest coal fired power station, every year.

Steve Brambley of GAMBICA, claims the savings are so great because electric motors consume huge amounts of electricity - about two-thirds of industrial energy use and about one quarter of total UK consumption. A simple electric motor costing a few hundred pounds can be expected to consume many tens of thousands of pounds worth of electricity over its useful lifetime.

The laws of physics concerning fans for example, means that for every 10 per cent reduction in speed, in accordance with the cube law of fans, there is subsequent saving of three times that in electricity consumed.

Steven Brambley said: "It is time for the Government and the institutional energy efficiency bodies to bring, by whatever means, pressure to bear on users of electric motors to control them efficiently. With rapidly rising energy costs one would think this would happen as a natural course but it is clear that carrots and sticks are required".

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