Efficient motors deliver 30% reduction in net solar energy system costs, a new report finds

A new Efficiency for Access report finds appliances using permanent magnet (PM) motors use 22-42% less energy than those using conventional alternating current (AC) motors. These energy savings can lower the net cost of a household's solar energy system by 30%.

Washington DC, March 1, 2021 —

A new report from Efficiency for Access offers the first comprehensive analysis of efficient motor applications in off-grid and weak grid appliance markets. Appliances using permanent magnet (PM) motors use 22-42% less energy than those using conventional alternating current (AC) motors. These savings deliver significant benefits to consumers and growth opportunities to the market.

A household switching from conventional AC motor appliances to PM motor appliances will save 30% in the net cost of their solar energy system, even after accounting for a 20% price premium, the report finds. When coupled with higher-capacity PV panels, the energy savings from PM motor appliances would enable a household to charge a 2- or 3-wheeled vehicle and virtually eliminate its operating cost.

In addition, PM motor appliances have the potential to drive greater sales of solar energy systems and appliances in off- and weak-grid markets. By using PM motors, product suppliers can offer higher-functioning products with expanded features (e.g., quieter washing machines and fans, and improved low voltage operation to allow solar water pumps to deliver better performance on overcast days). Finally, PM motor appliances are more reliable than conventional appliances, an important attribute for appliances designed for use in off-grid or rural environments. Together, these unique features can improve consumer satisfaction in off- and weak-grid markets and drive greater willingness to pay for better-performing appliances.

Despite their potential, PM motors are not yet the prevailing motor technology used in most appliances. Fifty-seven percent of the appliance types assessed in South Asia and 71% of those assessed in Sub-Saharan Africa have a market penetration rate of less than 50%. However, current sales data indicate PM motors have the potential to gain increasing market share by 2025, with the largest projected growth in solar water pumps, refrigerators/deep freezers and 2- and 3-wheeled vehicles.

To ensure the adoption of PM motor appliances in off- and weak grid markets, additional steps can be taken to drive technology innovation and incentivise their use. According to the report, efforts to standardise product designs, leverage local manufacturing, provide incentives/subsidies and increase awareness of the benefits of PM motor appliances can help drive additional demand and help PM motor appliances scale over the long term.

To learn more about PM motor benefits, current market barriers, and opportunities to catalyse growth, download the full report.


The Benefits of Permanent Magnet Motors: Efficiency Opportunities in Off- and Weak Grid Markets was developed by pManifold in collaboration with CLASP and the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of Efficiency for Access.

Efficiency for Access is a global coalition working to promote high performing appliances that enable access to clean energy for the world's poorest people. It is a catalyst for change, accelerating the growth of off-grid appliance markets to boost incomes, reduce carbon emissions, improve quality of life and support sustainable development.
Efficiency for Access consists of 15 Donor Roundtable Members, 10 Programme Partners, and more than 30 Investor Network members. Current Efficiency for Access Coalition members have programmes and initiatives spanning 44 countries and 22 key technologies. The Efficiency for Access Coalition is coordinated jointly by CLASP, an international appliance energy efficiency and market development specialist not for-profit organisation, and Energy Saving Trust, which specialises in energy efficiency product verification, data and insight, advice and research.

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