Pump system

Utilities and Governments are Wasting Millions of Dollars Subsidizing A Wrong Technology for Motor Systems Efficiency


According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electric motor systems consume more than half of global electricity. Industrial electric motor systems account for over 70% of total global industrial electricity usage. Electric motors operate fans; pumps; and materials-handling, compressed-air, and processing equipment.

Because motor efficiency improvements will only marginally increase the motor system’s efficiency, we must look to improve the efficiency of the equipment and systems being driven by the motor. Optimization measures such as predictive maintenance, avoiding oversized motors, and matching motor systems to specific needs, etc. could improve the energy efficiency of motor-driven systems significantly. Even more savings can be achieved by looking not only beyond the motor to the whole motor system but beyond the system to the end-use device, as shown in Figure below.

Figure. Illustration of two industrial electric motor-driven systems: (a) normal and (b) efficient (IEA 2016)

Figure. Illustration of two industrial electric motor-driven systems: (a) normal and (b) efficient (IEA 2016)

The traditional approach in most states and countries has been to focus on motors only and not on entire motor systems. As shown above, while increasing motor efficiency saves energy, optimizing the entire pump system will save much more energy. There is a need to shift the paradigm to focus on systems rather than individual motor efficiency. Programs and policies that target systems can save more energy and CO2 emissions in a more cost-effective manner than programs that focus only on motors.

Many utilities in the U.S. and governments around the world give substantial rebate for replacing electric motors with more efficient ones. While this may sound like a good thing to do, our extensive studies for 30 states in the U.S. and over 10 countries around the world shows that it is a clear waste of money. Why? Because in most cases, replacing existing motor with a more efficient one can improve the entire system efficiency by 1% - 5% (depending on the baseline efficiency of the systems). On the other hand, there are many other systems efficiency/optimization measures that can result in up to 20% - 25% efficiency improvement in the system.


For example, in a pump system with a Low efficiency baseline, replacing motor can only improve system efficiency by 5%, while trimming or changing impeller to match output to requirements can save about 15%, removing sediment/scale buildup from piping can save about 10% and installing variable speed drive (VSD) can save about 25% of the electricity use.

There is another very important reason why giving rebate for replacing motors with more efficient ones is such a waste of money in a massive scale. Our analysis consistently showed that replacing motor with more efficient one is by far one of the least cost-effective efficiency measures that can be implement on a motor system (for example in a pump systems or a fan systems). In other words, it cost much higher to save a kWh of electricity by replacing motor than to implement other system efficiency/optimization measures.

So, you might ask why many utilities and government prioritize giving rebate for replacing motors? The answer is it’s easier to implement and measure the saving. Utilities and government staff and program managers often need to show the amount of electricity saved as a result of implementing a rebate program. This is easier to do with equipment replacement than with soft measures such as system optimization. Having this said, many of the system optimization measures are easy to implement by in-house staff in the facilities.

To sum up, our detailed and extensive studies for three major industrial motor systems (pump systems, fan systems, and compressor systems) shows that millions of dollars spent annually by utilities and governments on rebate program for replacing electric motors with more efficient one is clearly waste of public and private funding. The better way would be to provide rebate for system efficiency measures that can save sometime up to 10 times higher energy saving with lower cost.

If utilities and governments persist to keep their motor replacement rebate program, my suggestion to them, based on the findings of our reports, is to bundle one or two efficiency measures with the motor replacement rebate. In other words, for an applicant to quality for motor replacement rebate, they should also implement one or two other system optimization measures from a list of measures that is predefined by utilities or government agencies.

To find out more about our detailed bottom-up studies for energy efficiency in industrial motor systems in the U.S., see our reports:

U.S. Industrial Motor Systems Energy Efficiency Reports Covering 30 States >>

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IEA. 2016. World Energy Outlook 2016. Paris, France.
IEA, 2011. Energy efficiency policy opportunities for electric motor driven systems. Paris, France.

Global Efficiency Intelligence and UNIDO are Helping Egypt to Improve Industrial Energy Efficiency


Egypt is the largest oil and natural gas consumer in Africa, accounting for about 20% of petroleum and other liquids consumption and around 40% of natural gas consumption in Africa. Increased industrial output, economic growth, energy-intensive natural gas and oil extraction industry, rapid population growth, rapid increase in vehicle sales, and energy subsidies are among key factors contributed to the rapid growth of energy consumption over the past few decades in Egypt.

Industry sector accounted for over 42% of natural gas, 86% of fuel oil, and 25% of total electricity consumption in Egypt in 2015. industrial electric motor systems account for over 70% of manufacturing electricity consumption.

Given its extensive experience on motor systems energy efficiency analysis, Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC. has been working on a project for United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to conduct a study on electricity saving potential in industrial motor systems in Egypt. We are analyzing energy use, energy efficiency, and GHG emissions-reduction potential in industrial pump systems, fan systems, and compressed-air systems, which together account for over 70% of electricity use in industrial motor systems in Egypt. We will assess the cost-effectiveness of series of energy conservation measures that can be implemented on these motor systems in Egypt.

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Hurricanes Maria, Irma, Harvey: How to Keep out the Flood Water by Pumping Less


First, I should say that my heart goes to all people who are affected by Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and all islands in the Caribbean. At times like this, we shall all come together to help the people in need.


Whether or not we like it or believe in it, climate change is causing global warming. That in term is causing an increase in severe weather and natural disasters. We are all witnessing the worst in a century hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, and droughts all over the world. This is not a coincident. Scientists have been yelling and warning us about this for years now. It’s time to listen and act before it is too late. According to NASA, storms feed off of latent heat, which is why scientists think global warming is strengthening storms. Extra heat in the atmosphere or ocean nourishes storms. While we cannot pin point the extend of effect by climate change on recent strong hurricanes, it is certainly one of the key factors knowing that, according to UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”


When hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the fourth most populous city in the US, large areas of the city got flooded. Same thing happened in many cities in Florida and Caribbean Islands when hurricane Irma and Maria devastated cities there. I saw on TV that people were using pumps is some areas to drain the water from their property and streets. Apparently, it is a common practice in Miami even after a heavy rain.

We all believe that “prevention is better than cure.” The same thing is true with global warming and climate change and preventing the consequences of them including hurricanes and flooding. In general, by improving energy efficiency, we can reduce burning fossil fuels and thereby reduce greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions which cause global warming and climate change. In this article, as an example, I focus on pumps and pumping systems and how their impact on climate change can be reduced.

In a series of reports we recently published on Energy Efficiency and GHG Emissions Reduction Potential in Industrial Motor Systems in the U.S. covering 30 U.S. States (Available from this Link), we estimated the energy use by industrial pump systems in 30 different states in the U.S., separately. Our analysis shows that industrial pump systems in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, which were flooded by recent hurricanes, together consumed over 37,000 GWh of electricity in 2015. That is about the electricity use by 3.5 million U.S. households. Industrial pump systems in the entire U.S. consumed over 147,000 GWh in 2015, which accounts for about 20% of total electricity use in the U.S. manufacturing in that year. In other words, the electricity use by industrial pump systems in the U.S. is equal to electricity use by 13.5 million U.S. households. In terms of GHG emissions, industrial pump systems alone are responsible for over 163 Billion lb of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year in the U.S.

In the same reports, we quantified energy saving and GHG emissions reduction potentials and cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency measures for industrial pump systems in each state studied including Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. Our analyses shows that up to 35% of the electricity use in the industrial pump systems can be saved by implementing commercially available energy efficiency and system optimization measures and technologies. Most importantly, over half of this energy saving potential is cost-effective. This means that to save a kWh of electricity will cost less than the average unit prices of electricity for industry in each of the 30 states studied. In other words, investing in energy efficiency in pump systems will result in millions of dollars in savings for companies, utilities, and tax payers. This will also result in creation of thousands of jobs for local communities in each state. In addition, the electricity savings will subsequently result in reduction in GHG emissions and other air pollutions from power plants. The combined GHG reduction potential from energy efficiency in industrial pump systems in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana is over 11 Billion lb of CO2 emissions per year.

These efficiency improvements will have absolutely no negative impact on production or services served by the pump systems. These are just commercially available system optimization measures which will result in both energy and cost savings as well as GHG emissions reduction.

Above, I just gave you an example of industrial pump systems. If you add other motor systems such as fan systems, compressor systems, etc. and also motor systems in other sectors (buildings, power sector, agriculture sector, etc.), the absolute energy saving, cost savings, and GHG emissions reductions will be up to 5 times higher than what was mentioned above for the industrial pump systems.

In addition to the industrial pump systems reports mentioned above, we have also published separate reports to quantify energy use, energy saving, and GHG emissions reduction potentials and cost-effectiveness of efficiency technologies and measures in industrial fan systems and industrial compressed air systems in 30 different states in the U.S. 

See Reports: U.S. Industrial Motor Systems Energy Efficiency Reports Covering 30 States >>

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Available Now: Reports on Electricity Saving Potentials in U.S. Industrial Motor Systems

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In the U.S., industrial electric motor systems account for over 70% of manufacturing electricity consumption. Motors are used to drive pumps, fans, compressed air systems, material handling, processing systems and more. Industrial motor systems represent a largely untapped cost-effective source for industrial energy efficiency savings that could be realized with existing commercialized technologies. A major barrier to effective policy making for government and utilities in the U.S. related to energy efficiency improvement in industrial motor systems is the lack of information and data on the magnitude and cost-effectiveness of these energy savings potential in each state in the U.S. and a comprehensive strategy and roadmap.

Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC has been working on an initiative to study and analyze the industrial motor systems in different states in the United States. We have 30 States from different regions in the U.S. that are included in this initiative. All top 20 U.S. states in terms of industrial energy consumption are included in this initiative. We work with various public and private stakeholders on this project. This initiative focuses on industrial pumps, fans, and compressed air systems which together account for over 80% of electricity use in industrial motor systems in the U.S. We conduct various analyses at the state-level such as analyzing the energy use by each motor system type and system size at manufacturing subsector level (e.g. chemical, food, textile, steel, machinery, pulp and paper, etc.), analyzing energy saving potentials and cost by technology and system size for each state, analyzing barriers and drivers to energy efficiency and system optimization in industrial motor systems in each state, and analyzing policy making and market implications for each state.

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Infographic: The Profile of Energy Use in Industrial Motor Systems

According to International Energy Agency, around half of the electricity used globally is consumed in electric motor systems. Industrial motor systems account for around 70% of manufacturing electricity consumption in different countries. The inforgraphic below is prepared by Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC to summarize some key information on energy use in motor systems worldwide.

Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC is working on Global Motor Systems Efficiency Initiative and the U.S. Motor Systems Efficiency Initiative (covers 30 states in the U.S.) to analyze the energy use in industrial motor systems and energy efficiency potentials in these systems at manufacturing subsectors level in different countries or states in the U.S. For more information, click on the links above to see our projects page.

Available Now: U.S. Industrial Motor Systems Energy Efficiency Reports >>

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