Engineers save the world

Through improvements in energy efficiency, global fossil fuel consumption for power generation could be reduced by up to 30 percent.

Global warming is the most significant challenge we face, so we need to act fast. To inhibit the growing energy demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has long stressed two factors: the relationship between economic growth and energy consumption growth and the link between the growth of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

“Off the shelf” medicines to break these linkages are available already. Energy, be it electricity or fuel, must be used smartly. This means energy efficiency. At the same time, existing technologies enable the utilization of renewable energy sources that do not emit any greenhouse gases. Sounds simple, right?

This is where engineers enter the picture, whose innovations make a sustainable world possible. As part of a healthy market competition engineers will continue to develop higher efficiency motors and more intelligent variable speed drives. The hard engineering work enables our customers to save 490TWh of energy per year with ABB variable speed drives – savings equivalent to more than six times of the annual electrical energy consumption in Finland. This is in itself a large number, and the good news doesn’t stop there: almost 70 percent of the world’s motors are still waiting for an energy-efficient solution. There is enough work to go around for engineers, for sure.

The most important aspect of my own work is the ethical side. IEA’s World Energy Outlook takes a strong stand on the link between energy efficiency and living standards. Up to 1.3 billion people in the world live without electricity and 2.6 billion without the possibility of hygienic food preparation. Energy efficiency measures enable affordable access to electricity thus giving raising living standards. There certainly is enough work to be done, even after my retirement.

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About the author

Jukka Tolvanen

Born in 1969 in Joensuu, Finland, Jukka Tolvanen studied electrical engineering at the University of Technology in Helsinki, where he received his master's degree in 1996. Tolvanen joined ABB Drives as a trainee in 1993 and full time employee in 1996. He has had several managerial positions in R&D, sourcing, sales and product management and marketing. Currently Tolvanen enjoys his time studying energy efficiency full-time. Jukka blogs about energy efficiency related matters in English and in Finnish.
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