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The Energy Efficiency Imperative for Megacities in ASEAN

  • Urbanization is driving economic growth in ASEAN

  • Accelerating adoption of more efficient electric motors and variable speed drives is key to building resilience for greener growth

ASEAN is the world’s third most populous economy, after China and India. With a total GDP of approximately US$3.08 trillion in 2020, ASEAN is the world’s fifth largest economy and is projected to become the fourth by 2030. It is home to an estimated 662 million people and is urbanizing rapidly. By 2030, the region’s population is expected to reach 717 million with the fastest urban expansion set to occur in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The sheer density of megacities in the region is posing enormous environmental risks. According to the Climate Risk Index, based on an annual average from 2000 to 2019, three of the ten countries most affected by climate change are located in the region namely Myanmar (2); Philippines (4); and Thailand (9). In many ways, climate change has exposed the region‘s vulnerabilities as well as biggest opportunities for driving down carbon emissions. The risk and cost is pointing to energy efficiency as one of the key solutions to the climate challenge.

“The region’s rapidly expanding megacities make them critically important as the primary focus for energy efficiency improvement. As hotbeds for social change and economic prosperity, megacities in the region are becoming a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. However, by breaking down the sources and identifying opportunities in which energy efficiency can make the biggest impact, megacities can lead the way in tackling the climate crisis,” said R Narayanan, Senior Vice President, ABB Motion, Asia.

Under phase two of the ASEAN Plan of Action of Energy Cooperation (APAEC) which sets a more ambitious energy intensity reduction target of 32% by 2025 based on 2005 level, three key sectors i.e., buildings, transport, and industries will be the focus for increased energy efficiency adoption.

ABB is in the forefront in these areas including food and beverage as well as water and wastewater which are essential building blocks for sustainable megacities. By working with stakeholders across the region, ABB is deploying advanced motor and drives technologies to help local players optimize their operations while reducing environmental impact.

In Singapore’s revolutionary Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS), a water management superhighway, ABB IE3 motors and energy efficient drives solutions are helping to reduce energy consumption by up to 30 percent. As Singapore recycles and retreats used water which involves energy intensive processes, it is constantly seeking innovative solutions to improve resource efficiency for a more sustainable water future.

Space cooling is the fastest-growing energy use in buildings globally. In the region, it could be responsible for as much as 40 percent share of the region’s electricity demand in 2040, requiring around 200 GW of additional generation capacity.

ABB is leading the way in Vietnam by setting a new benchmark for innovation and sustainability for the Viettel Group, Vietnam’s largest telecommunication company. ABB drives are used for the speed control of electric motors for ventilation and air conditioning applications at the company’s headquarters which showcases state-of-the-art smart building control and green innovation technologies. In optimizing efficiency gains even further, BACnet connectivity of the drives are also integrated with the building automation systems to generate savings of up to 20 percent in energy cost.

In key sugar-producing Thailand, one of the country’s largest sugarcane complexes at the Nakhon Sawan province which comprises an integrated sugarcane crushing plant (2.4 million tons per year), ethanol plant (600,000 liters per day) and biomass power plant (85 MW), ABB’s ultra-low harmonic drives and high efficiency motors are deployed to yield greater system efficiency. The motors and drives are used at crushing mills to control rapidly fluctuating loads and optimize performance. This has provided an estimated 30 percent of system efficiency improvements and full torque control ability when compared to conventional solutions.

“As ASEAN megacities continue to grow, there is a tremendous opportunity to decarbonize industry and infrastructure,” said Morten Wierod, President ABB Motion. The path to an energy efficient future depends on investing in the latest motor technology, along with the drives that will save even more energy. “ASEAN can lead the way by taking positive steps in setting out a roadmap for adoption of minimum efficiency requirement for electric motors to shape a low-carbon future.”


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