Five rules for intelligent energy efficiency regulation

It’s no surprise that energy consumption and energy efficiency consistently appear on national and international agendas. Energy efficiency affects technological development, economics at every level and the competitiveness of companies and countries.

That’s why countries in Europe, specifically in the European Union (EU), have been actively pushing energy efficiency implementation measures. Typically, these measures focus on the energy demand side and combine three elements:

  • Driving innovation on components, systems, processes and business models;
  • replacing old, inefficient technology with the best available technology – taking into account the total life cycle of equipment; and
  • encouraging energy users to invest in efficient technology, and advising users to consume energy and material more efficiently.

The EU’s Ecodesign directive is a good example of this approach. Depending on the specific market and product group, the Commission sets mandatory minimum efficiency levels for products, like for industrial electrical motors or lets consumers decide based on information with explanatory labels. This occurs frequently with household appliances, such as washing machines. In both cases old machines are replaced by modern equipment with technology that is more efficient.

The Commission improves technology levels by setting mandatory efficiency performance standards or efficiency classifications based on the best available technology. Regulations create a market for the most efficient products, and guides consumers and industrial users to consider total life cycle efficiency.

It all makes sense, right? But when regulation covers globally traded products – such as electrical motors – additional requirements become necessary. To optimize energy efficiency efforts and maximize benefits, five main requirements must be fulfilled:

  1. Efficiency limits, their markings and measurement methods must take a global approach and be globally coherent. Otherwise they might cause additional cost on the supply side and confusion on the demand side.
  2. Common standards are important in order to make a global approach even possible. Differing standards are unintentional trade barriers.
  3. To avoid any confusion or loopholes, standard content must be clearly defined.
  4. To make buyers’ decision making easier, a standardized registration system should be in place, and market surveillance must have a clear strategy and resources.
  5. In the future, any global approach must cover both component and system levels; e.g., the planned regulation for European pump and compressor systems.

ABB has promoted energy efficiency in electrical motor technology for more than twenty years and will continue to do so in the future. We support and contribute to minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) projects all over the world because we believe that when formulated correctly they are good for everyone: our customers, the regions in which they operate and us. That’s why, while contributing to an MEPS project, the five prerequisites mentioned above are in our agenda as well.

Futher reading:

Read here about our tools for selecting right energy efficient motor

Falling carbon prices raise questions about energy policy



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About the author

Hannu Vaananen

I'm Hannu Väänänen, working for ABB since 1994 and located in Helsinki, Finland. Since my days as a student at the Helsinki University of Technology energy efficient technologies and renewable energies have been two of my passions. But because energy is not only about advanced technology but also politics, energy policies have also interested me for several years. This includes especially carbon free energy on supply side and energy efficiency policies and practices on demand side. Now I'm working for ABB's electrical motors and generators global business. My focus is on legislation and standards. I'm also board member of European Wind Energy Association EWEA. I have two sons, who have now left home and are both studying. This gives more time for cross country skiing in winter and bicycling during summer. During my free time I'm run a small farm together with my relatives. So you can ask me also about barley, wheat and rapeseed farming in a Nordic climate!
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