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Motor System Optimization in China: Building a Model for Industrial Energy Efficiency

Industrial electric motor systems in China consume more than 600 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) annually, accounting for more than 50 percent of that nation's electricity use. If these systems were optimized, their efficiency could be improved by 20 percent or more. Responding to this opportunity in late 2001, the Chinese government established the China Motor Systems Energy Conservation Program, in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Foundation (UNF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Energy Foundation.

The China Motor Systems Energy Conservation Program's pilot efforts aim to develop and test the effectiveness of a variety of education materials, analysis tools, and standards for promoting motor system optimization in China and to create a local delivery infrastructure in two provinces (Shanghai and Jiangsu) to raise awareness, conduct plant assessments, and develop projects that improve the efficiency of industrial motor-driven systems. During a second phase of the program, the pilot program participants will be prepared to expand the program's activities by training Chinese engineers in other provinces.

Aimee McKane, of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) was selected as the Chief Technical Advisor to the three-year pilot program. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) provides technical and developmental support to the DOE Industrial Technologies program for its international activities, which have recently focused on China. The lessons learned from the pilot program will influence the development of both Phase II of this effort and, ultimately, a national program. Within approximately 10 years, the Chinese government plans to establish and train a network of motor system optimization experts throughout the country who will assist individual factories with motor system improvements.

The program focus through the spring of 2003 was on building an infrastructure of trained system optimization experts in Shanghai and Jiangsu provinces. International experts, typically in teams of three, spent a total of 34 person-weeks in China between April 2002 and March 2003, training 22 Chinese engineers in optimization techniques for pumps, fans, motors/drives, and compressed air systems. This training combined classroom instruction, hands-on practice with measurement equipment, and on-site assessment of motor-driven systems at selected Chinese factories. In addition to teaching, the visiting experts prepared the factory sites for on-site training and conducted follow-up visits to review plant assessment and measurement techniques. Despite the considerable challenges posed by language differences and industrial practices, as well as the physical difficulties of conducting on-site training in noisy factory environments, this instruction model has been successful.

Fan expert Ron Wroblewski (right) demonstrates how to conduct fan flow measurements.

Figure 1. Fan expert Ron Wroblewski (right) demonstrates how to conduct fan flow measurements.

After completing the program, the Chinese engineers will provide awareness training for approximately 400 Shanghai and Jiangsu factory managers and engineers as well as technical assessments to at least 32 Shanghai and Jiangsu factories to assist them in identifying and undertaking their own motor system optimization projects. As part of the program, the Chinese engineers will also implement and evaluate a series of eight to 12 demonstration projects in different industrial sectors in Shanghai and Jiangsu and prepare case studies. Some of these demonstration projects have been completed, including a pumping system optimization project at the Shanghai New Asiatic Pharmaceuticals Company, Ltd. New pumps and variable-speed control on a cooling tower pumping system in this project are reducing pumping energy consumption by almost 50 percent at this facility, saving the equivalent of approximately US$80,000 per year.

For the remainder of 2003, the primary program focus of the Chinese engineers will be on conducting 16 plant assessments in each province, completing four to six projects and case studies on the demonstration projects described above, and training 200 factory representatives in each province. A study tour of the United States is also planned for the Chinese engineers in late 2003. Development of national standards for the efficient operation of motors, fans, and pumps has begun and will be completed in 2004.

In the final year of the pilot program (2004), a comprehensive evaluation will be completed. It is anticipated that the pilot program model will be refined and applied in other countries with an emerging industrial sector.

— Aimee McKane and Vestal Tutterow

For more information, contact:

  • Aimee McKane
  • (202) 646-7961; fax (202) 646-7800

Primary funding for this work is from the United Nations Foundation (UNF), with substantial in-kind contributions from U.S. DOE and China's State Development and Planning Commission. Additional funding comes from the Energy Foundation.

Vestal Tutterow works for EETD's Washington D.C. Projects Office and the Alliance to Save Energy.

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