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EU’s mandatory motor efficiency plan offers a VSD option

16 March, 2009

The European Commission has agreed on draft regulations that could lead to mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards for industrial electric motors being phased in from 2011–2017. The Commission predicts that the changes could save about 135TWh across the 27 EU member states by 2020 – equivalent to Sweden’s annual electricity consumption.

The EC estimates that the measures could also save about €9bn, create 40,000 new jobs, and cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 63 millions tonnes, across the EU. According to the UK Government, the changes will provide benefits to UK industry and businesses worth around £200m a year, as well as saving at least 1m tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The new regulations form part of the EuP Directive – EcoDesign Requirements for Energy-Using Products – which is laying down efficiency requirements for a wide range of products including refrigerators, pumps, lighting and TV sets. The motor regulations, agreed unanimously at a Brussels meeting on 11 March, will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament and Council. They are expected to be adopted by the Commission in June this year.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs is hailing the proposed regulations as “a concrete contribution to reach the EU`s energy efficiency and climate protection targets and will result very quickly in significant energy savings and benefits for the society and industry”.

But some environmental campaigners are calling for the efficiency measures to be rejected because they are too weak and have been watered down, and their timescales extended, under pressure from industry. “The draft texts so far lack the ambition to deliver the reductions needed and are being weakened by industry lobbying,” says Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe.

And the UK Government, while welcoming the introduction of mandatory minimum efficiency levels, would also have preferred stronger legislation. “Given the importance of tackling climate change, in the UK we were keen to go further, faster and it is disappointing that other countries did not agree with us on this,” says Lord Hunt, the UK’s minister for sustainability. “The European motor market is lagging behind the rest of the world, but all improvements have to be seen as a significant step forwards.”

The new motor efficiency scheme will be based on the efficiency classes defined in the IEC 60034-30 standard published by the International Electrotechnical Commission. These range from IE1 (low efficiency) to IE4 (super-premium efficiency). It will supersede the voluntary scheme based on the Eff efficiency classifications which has been running in Europe since 1998.

In the first phase of the new scheme, which is due to come into force on 16 June, 2011, all single–speed, three-phase squirrel-cage induction motors with output ratings from 0.75–375kW sold in the EU will have to achieve at least the IE2 efficiency level. The scheme applies to motors with two, four or six poles.

In the second phase, which comes into force on 1 January 2015, motors rated from 7.5–375kW will either have to achieve the higher IE3 efficiency level, or meet the IE2 level and be equipped with a variable speed drive (VSD). Finally, two years later, the same regulations will be extended to apply to motors as small as 750W. There are no plans to make IE4 motors mandatory – efficiency values have yet to be defined for this class, which will cover “super-premium” technologies such as permanent magnet (PM) motors.

Because there are no harmonised efficiency test standards or classification methods for drives, the regulations do not set minimum requirements for VSDs. However, the EC has issued a mandate for the development of suitable test standards and classification methods. This mandate also covers the development of test standards for motors, such as PM types, designed solely for converter operation.


By the time that first phase of the EC scheme comes into force in June 2011, motors will have to show their efficiency at full rated load and voltage (in per cent) as well as their IE classification on their nameplates (as shown in the above example produced by the Italian motor-maker, Lafert). Other information, such as rated input frequencies, voltages and speeds, will have to provided in documentation and on manufacturers’ Web sites.




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