Interview: Indraneel Dhaneshwar

Regional Division President, Large Motors & Generators at ABB India

There is always a need to prioritize the investments

December 08, 2022. By Manu Tayal

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It is estimated that 45% of the world’s electricity is used to power electric motors in buildings and industrial applications and hence has great potential to save energy. There is always a need to prioritize the investments and we could use a few guidelines. As the motor’s inherent efficiency cannot be improved after manufacturing and considering the long lifetime of motors, all new motors in a plant should be at least IE4 super premium efficiency motors wherever applicable and should be optimally selected for a given application, avoiding unnecessary oversizing, discussed Indraneel Dhaneshwar, Regional Division President, Large Motors & Generators, ABB India, MEA & LatAm, in an exclusive interaction with Manu Tayal, Senior Associate Editor, Energetica India. Mr. Indraneel also discussed about various challenges in maintaining grid stability and possible solutions, usage of energy efficient motors, etc. Here’re the edited excerpts from that interaction:

Que: In your view, what are the challenges in maintaining grid stability?

Ans: Global efforts to minimize climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions are driving the adoption of renewable energy to replace fossil-fuel-based electricity production. Large-scale renewable energy sources are getting integrated into the existing electrical grids. Maintaining voltage and frequency within the operational limit is critical. When the portion of renewables like wind and solar is less than 20%, then the stability issues are relatively minor. As the proportion of these increases, grid stability issues arise.

Power grid operators are faced with the challenge of integrating an increasing share of energy sources into their systems that do not provide the inertia they rely on to maintain grid stability and on the contrary contribute to harmonics and other power quality issues. The variable nature of renewable energy and the fluctuating demand from consumers also pose challenges to the grid.

Keeping various power sources synchronized and balancing optimal generation and demand to maintain grid reliability is no less challenge.


Que: What are the novel approaches to grid stability?

Ans: With the ongoing energy transition, when moving from traditional large-scale coal and oil-fired power production to more and more solar and wind, the electrical grid becomes weaker, and it is more challenging to keep it stable. There are several ways how to increase stability and one very well-proven solution is to add synchronous condensers to the grid. A synchronous condenser contributes with inertia, reactive power as well as short circuit contribution which all support a stable grid.

Synchronous condensers are large rotating electrical machines developed to mimic the operation of conventional generator systems by providing an alternative source of spinning inertia. They offer an innovative solution to address the grid stability challenge by improving the frequency stability, voltage stability, bus voltage, and allowing more renewables to be connected to the grid.


Que: What are the applications of motors with improved energy efficiency?

Ans: It is estimated that 45% of the world’s electricity is used to power electric motors in buildings and industrial applications and hence has great potential to save energy. There is always a need to prioritize the investments and we could use a few guidelines. As the motor’s inherent efficiency cannot be improved after manufacturing and considering the long lifetime of motors, all new motors in a plant should be at least IE4 super premium efficiency motors wherever applicable and should be optimally selected for a given application, avoiding unnecessary oversizing.

Large motors cater variety of applications ranging from Pumps, Compressors, Conveyors, Mills etc., in different industry segments like steel, Oil & Gas, F&B, Cement etc. All the applications are energy intensive as power consumed by single motor is generally in megawatts. Even 0.1% increase in motor efficiency can result in significant energy savings. ABB’s product range offers best-in-class motor efficiency ensuring lower operational costs while securing reliable operations.

For the already installed base, rewound motors where the efficiency drops anywhere from 1% to 4% are low hanging opportunities for replacements.


Que: How are large motors & generators powering the way to net zero?

Ans: There is rightly a considerable focus on improving the energy efficiency of small to medium electric motors. Yet it is large motors, rated at greater than 375 kilowatts (kW), where some of the most significant savings are being achieved. While these motors comprise just 0.03% of the total stock, they account for about 23% of all the energy consumed by motors.

The journey towards net zero with large motors & generators are in four areas. Green products - by designing high efficiency products with close to 100% circularity. Manufacturing these machines in green infrastructure using green manufacturing process. Further, if customers use green energy to run these machines, they will contribute significantly to net zero.

In terms of green infrastructure and green manufacturing, our Vadodara facility, where we manufacture large motors & wind power generators, is RE100 compliant by using 100% renewable energy. We will achieve water net-zero status by 2024. The facility also has a high level of biodiversity, with 60% of the land being green.


Que: Can you state examples of ABB motors adopted by customers that have led to limiting energy costs?

Ans: Annual energy saved in India from the installed base of ABB’s energy-efficient motors and drives created in the last 10 years is nearly 12TWh. With an increasing installed base and higher efficiency products, this annual saving is only improving year on year. There are many examples of how ABB’s solutions have helped our customers save energy.

Shree Cement, one of India’s largest cement manufacturers, opted for ABB’s water-cooled large motor solution for critical applications such as kilns, where ABB motors guarantee 96% minimum efficiency with optimized motor size, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.

By installing ABB IE4 motors in applications such as fans, compressors, pumps, conveyors, blowers, and gearboxes, a leading metal manufacturer in Orissa saved a whopping 250 MWh of energy annually, which is equivalent to the average annual energy consumption of an Indian village. By installing ABB’s Cooling Tower Direct Drive solution in its hotel, JW Marriott Pune has set new benchmarks in energy efficiency and is saving about 35% energy annually.


Que: What are the energy efficiency initiatives beyond motors that can be adopted by companies?

Ans: Energy efficiency initiatives can be implemented in a variety of settings. Lighting, energy recovery from steam and stream, controlling leaks and improving process efficiencies by reducing wastes and non-value-added activities are a few examples. To prioritize implementation, the first step is to measure and estimate consumption and savings. Using Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices for measurement and energy evaluation can be a cost-effective solution.

Oversizing of applications can be a significant challenge, causing motors to not only deliver lower efficiency but also have higher active material content, resulting in waste and increased carbon emissions.

Matching the best efficiency curve of driven load, motor and the drive is also vital. Introducing variable frequency drives will help improve the system efficiency significantly. As an example, in a conventional pumping system using throttle to regulate the flow can have system efficiency as low as 30%. This can be improved to over 80% by using energy efficient pumps, motors and drives instead of throttling.

Apart from energy efficiency, companies should also promote sufficiency i.e., use of less products and services, when possible, thereby reducing the overall energy consumption.


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