Regulation paves the way for sustainable future

Standards and directives have a significant impact on the spread of energy-efficient electrical equipment, and thus saving energy.

These savings do not only benefit our customers at national level but also at international level as well. Regulation benefits us all.

In terms of energy efficiency, the development of standards and directives has been prominent. By increasing efficiency – using more efficient motors in more energy-efficient ways like with variable speed drives (VSDs) – there is an opportunity to realize huge savings in energy and carbon dioxide emissions.

For manufacturers to be able to sell the same solutions in different countries, harmonization of the standards for electrical equipment is truly needed. This means manufacturers follow the same principles when defining, measuring and publishing equipment efficiencies. Manufacturing equipment with the achieved volume advantage is cost-effective with direct effect on market conditions. Standards have a great impact on both of these.

Harmonized standards from international to national level

For electric motors, two standards introduced by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), are also adopted as EN standards:

– IEC/EN 60034-2-1:2014 specifies efficiency determination methods

– IEC/EN 60034-30-1:2014 specifies International Efficiency classes (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4)

These standards are introduced at national level as local MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standards) by governments, setting mandatory minimum efficiency levels for electric motors. This in turn makes it much easier to compare efficiency levels. Harmonized standards and the increasing adoption of MEPS around the world are therefore good news for motor users.

EU tightens regulation for motors and drives

The European Union is tackling its 2020 energy efficiency objective with a three part standard EN 50598 for power drive systems and their driven applications as part of the Ecodesign Directive.

Previously, variable speed drives have not had a similar IE classification as motors. The EN 50598-2 standard published in December 2014 addressed this and introduced two new energy efficiency indicators. The first is an IE class for the drive, or “complete drive module” (CDM) as defined in the standard. The second is an International Efficiency of Systems (IES) classification for the combination of the motor and the complete drive module, known as a “Power Drive System” (PDS).

Along with the standard, the minimum energy efficiency requirements for motors changed in Europe. Since the beginning of 2015, motors between 7.5 and 375 kW must comply to IE3 rating. IE2 rated motors have still been available but are required to be used with a VSD.

This is only the beginning though. Starting January 1, 2017, the standard expands to cover motors starting from 0.75 kW up to 375 kW. The same requirements continue to apply for either IE3 rating or IE2 equipped with a variable speed drive.

Regulation improves competitiveness

Tightening regulations enhance our customers’ processes, improving their competitiveness. Equally, standards and directives are putting pressure on ABB and other drives and motors manufacturers to increasingly improve the efficiency of equipment.

ABB is actively participating in the standardization work internationally and locally. The decades of expertise gained through this type of collaboration on regulation as well as on research and development level is transferred into product reliability and quality.

How much regulation has reduced your electricity bill?

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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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