'Significant' potential for electric drives in the chemical industry

Paul Boughton

The increasing demand for energy-efficient systems coupled with the need for reliability in process applications offers significant potential for electric drives in the European chemical industry.

Despite the economic slowdown and declining industrial output in the European chemical industry, the electric drives market is anticipated to sustain its growth rates due to the need for infrastructural changes in chemical plants especially across Eastern Europe.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Electric Drives Market in the European Chemical Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of $147.0 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $187.6 million in 2015. In this research, the following technologies are covered: ac, dc and servo drives.

“The heightened demand for energy efficiency and greener manufacturing has spurred the uptake of electric drives by the European chemical industry,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst John Leo Ignatius P. “The need for improved reliability and added flexibility in process control applications – achievable through electric drives –  within a chemical plant has boosted market prospects.”

In European Union, energy prices for industrial applications are showing an upward trend. The average energy price for industrial applications in EU 27 countries rose 23.9 per cent in 2008 compared to 2007. Due to this unprecedented increase, chemical customers consider the usage of variable speed drives in their plant optimisation programmes an energy-efficient measure.

The current slowdown in the European automotive and construction sectors has adversely affected the electric drives market in the European chemical industry. The lack of new projects, and also frozen investments due to the apprehensions of chemical suppliers in the ongoing global economic crisis are restraining the expansion of the electric drives market.

“In 2008, the EU chemical industry’s output experienced negative growth,” remarks Ignatius. “Chemicals used in industrial and other key customer sectors remain seriously affected by the dramatic slowdown in the level of economic activity across EU, as well as by the sharp deceleration in world output.”

Lowered productivity indicates that many production sites in Europe were closed during 2008. This resulted in the lack of demand for electric drives in the European chemical industry.

“A product portfolio encompassing complete automation solutions and electric drives of all power ranges is key to growth in the electric drives market in the European chemical industry,” advises Ignatius. “Electric drive manufacturers are augmenting their existing portfolios by producing drives in higher power ranges. The concept of modular technology in electric drives has enabled electric drive manufacturers to customise their offerings according to end-user specifications.”

For more information, visit www.frost.com