Driving Force Blog - April 2021

Enhancing Green Initiatives and Cost Reduction in Using Variable Speed Pump Motors


Enhancing Green Initiatives and Cost Reduction in Using Variable Speed Pump Motors

Industrial pumping facilities and systems face a plethora of challenges throughout their lifetime including aging infrastructures, compliance and public-health standard changes, higher consumer expectations, and shifts in population – to name a few. The use of variable speed motors and drives within industrial water pumping and distribution systems has become more commonplace over the years because of their ability to provide efficiency and longevity while providing solutions for these challenges. Additionally, variable speed motors provide a great stepping stone for beginning industrial environmentally friendly goals, or green initiatives, which aim to reduce cost for the facility in tandem with reducing impact on the environment. 

Variable speed systems, or systems that allow for adjustable speeds, are modern marvels – with the ability to save between 30-50% of energy consumed when switched with their single-speed counterparts in an industrial water distribution or pumping system. This efficiency comes by design as the variable speed pumping system’s speed can be increased and decreased as demand requires. This reduced consumption fuels green goals by reducing the overall number of natural resources (and toxic fumes from using those natural resources) that is required to power the system. In addition to achieving green goals, this change gives cost savings and a facility can see payback of the cost to implement the variable speed motors in approximately one year (depending on size and complexity of the facility).  

Did you know? Pumping systems account for nearly 20% of the world’s energy use by electric motors and 25-50% of the total electrical usage in certain industrial facilities.

In conjunction with these benefits, controlling the speed of the motor provides less wear and tear on existing infrastructure. Any reduction in speed achieved can greatly help in reducing pump wear, specifically in bearings and seals. When using variable speed motors in conjunction with other Industrial Internet of Things equipment, repair and upkeep can become simple and less frequent. 

There is constant need for improvements, especially in any industrial pumping facility directly servicing consumers, such as industrial water pumping facilities, when there are shifts in population or higher demands for consumption. Variable speed drives and motors offer further benefits of process control. By being able to adjust the rate of speed of the equipment small variations can be corrected quickly, reducing the likelihood of flow or pressure surges

Aside from the savings to industrial facilities that these products provide, the Department of Energy (DoE) continually pushes for energy efficiency in the industrial sector. On January 27, 2020, the DoE’s commercial and industrial pump rulemaking went into effect. The change brought on by this requires pump manufacturers to update product lines, testing, and labels to be compliant with the minimum efficiency levels, dependent on the pump type. While the rule does apply specifically to product production, the pumping industry as a whole has pushed for products that are efficient beyond the minimum compliance requirements in an effort to improve the energy efficiency of operations. 

The capital cost and manpower that goes into the process of designing and installing upgrades (or a completely new pumping system) can seem quite daunting, however the justification for introducing these powerful pieces of equipment is quite clear from all aspects of operation. Alongside the DoE’s push for efficiency, many energy companies are making it easier than ever for commercial accounts to use the already available rebate programs provided by the government for integrating energy efficient variable speed systems. These incentives, typically cash or tax credit, differ by state and locality, however the Department of Energy has a convenient website dedicated to helping you find the appropriate improvement rewards for you.