23 Jul 2024


International initiative aims to raise motor system efficiencies

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has set up a multinational collaborative programme to promote the wider use of efficient electrical equipment – in particular, electric motors and motor-driven systems.

The Efficient Electrical End-use Equipment (4E) programme will co-ordinate international initiatives to implement efficiency improvements, and share expertise between the participating countries. Although the programme will look at other technologies such as standby power and set-top boxes, its main focus initially will be on motor-driven equipment, which accounts for about 40% of global electricity consumption.

Seven countries – the UK, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Japan, South Africa and Switzerland – have embarked on a thee-year programme with a budget of €666,000 to work on various tasks related to the efficiency of motor-driven systems. Other countries have shown an interest in joining the initiative.

The programme will focus on polyphase AC motors in range 0.5–500kW, which account for the bulk of the electricity consumed by motors around the world. The brief covers two-, four- and six-pole motors operating from 200–700V supplies.

The goal is to improve motor system efficiency levels by 20–30%. The programme will look not only at motors, but also at auxiliary components such as variable speed drives, transmission belts, gearboxes and voltage balancing systems that can affect the efficiency of motor-driven equipment such as pumps, fans and compressors.           

Areas where the IEA sees potential for improving efficiency include: motor and equipment sizing; using VSDs to adapt motors to partial loads; optimising the thermal and mechanical efficiencies of complete motor-driven systems; optimising and balancing power and voltage; and stabilising frequencies.

The UK is taking the lead in two of the eight tasks identified so far by 4E – looking at new motor technologies and their applications, and at the integration of complete motor systems. The work is being led by the UK-based WSP Group on behalf of the Sustainable Products and Materials programme run by Defra, the UK Government`s Depeartment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Other 4E tasks include producing a guide to motor systems, looking at energy management in industry, and establishing a network of motor testing centres.

The 4E programme has absorbed the work previously done by the Seeem (Standards for Energy Efficiency in Electric Motor Systems) initiative. A dedicated 4E Web site has been set up at www.iea-4e.org

♦  A group of motor experts from companies including SEW Eurodrive and Emerson, and representing the EU and the US electrical manufacturer’s association Nema, has produced a guide to Meps (minimum efficiency performance standards) for motors. The 16-page Motor Meps Guide (downloadable from www.motorsystems.org) looks at the various motor efficiency standards and the test and labelling schemes in use around the world, and how they are being adopted by different countries. It explains the IEC’s new motor efficiency classification scheme and reports on how compliance is being enforced.