The most efficient route to efficiency

In the UK alone, government estimates are of benefits to industry worth around £200m a year, as well as CO2 emission reductions of at least 1m tonnes.
In the UK alone, government estimates are of benefits to industry worth around £200m a year, as well as CO2 emission reductions of at least 1m tonnes.
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Energy efficiency is no longer something we can aspire to, or strive for. In more and more areas of our lives, our economy, our industries and our infrastructure, it is something we are bound by law to achieve. With the UK government requiring us to cut our emissions by 34% (to 1990 levels) by 2020, it’s not surprising they are turning the screws. But how hard does being energy-efficient have to be?

Lagging your loft and buying a Toyota Prius are all very virtuous, but they are not what concern us here. Industry is facing its own challenges and legislation which will be concentrating your mind on finding quick, cost-effective ways to cut carbon emissions from factories and other facilities which are your responsibility. Focussing-in even further, with regulations now drafted for mandatory minimum efficiency standards for industrial electric motors, and set to be implemented in 2011, that is as good a place as any to start fighting the good fight for energy-efficiency.

It has to be said that, even if the new laws feel like victimisation, they are actually a viable and sensible step. After all, the European Commission predicts that the new minimum efficiency standards – once fully phased-in in 2017 – could save around 132 TW-h across the EU member states: the equivalent to Sweden’s entire annual electricity consumption. In the UK alone, government estimates are of benefits to industry worth around £200m a year, as well as CO2 emission reductions of at least 1m tonnes. Hardly surprising, perhaps, when you realise that around 30 million new electric motors are sold each year for use in industry, and there are already 300 million in use in industry, infrastructure and large buildings.

If only a tiny percentage of these motors forms part of solutions which are poorly designed, inappropriate for their application, or simply and straightforwardly inefficient users of energy, then the cumulative amount of wasted energy would be colossal. And unfortunately, it’s closer to the truth to say that a large minority of these motors will actually not be the most effective and efficient solutions available for their applications. This is not down to willful neglect or lack of interest on the part of specifiers and purchasers. It’s more likely a result of the difficulties of identifying just how efficient or inefficient a particular motor might be, and therefore whether or not it is the right motor for a particular application. The new IEC standards for energy-efficiency in electric motors are designed to provide the remedy.

Replacing the existing EFF1, EFF2 and EFF3 European energy-efficiency classifications, the IEC standards defined under IES/EN 60034-30 will make testing procedures tougher, and energy-efficiency ratings more accurate, so that buyers can make more informed choices and also choose motors which meet their requirements much more closely.

If you haven’t yet come across the new ratings, which come into force in Europe on 1st June 2011, they define energy-efficiency classes for single-speed, three-phase, 50hz and 60hz cage-induction motors, which:
- Have a rated voltage Un up to 1000V
- Have a rated output PN between 0.75kW and 375kW
- Have either 2, 4 or 6 poles
- Are rated on the basis of duty type S1 (continuous duty) or S3 (intermittent periodic duty) with an operation time of 80% or more
- Are rated for operating conditions according to IEC 60034-1, clause 6
- Are capable of operating direct on-line

Prospective purchasers will then be able to identify the efficiency of any particular motor more quickly and easily, as it will be obligatory to display the efficiency class and motor efficiency, tested at nominal load, on a rating plate attached to the motor itself, and also in written product documentation and in any catalogue in which the motor appears. It will also be possible under the new regime to signal future best-in-class motors, and to compare emerging motor technologies with existing technologies in a consistent and fair manner. Even so, whether you are upgrading your electric motors or investing in new motors for new applications, it can still be helpful to have advice and support from a company which not only has know-how, but also access to the industry leaders in motor design and to their products which are compliant with the new efficiency standards.

ERIKS, for example, works closely with WEG, Brook Crompton and Fenner, and can supply the latest generation products backed by impartial, comprehensive technical support. And going beyond the demands of energy-efficiency to those of safety, ERIKS has one of only three motor repair workshops in the UK which are certified to the IECEx standard for the overhaul and repair of equipment used in hazardous atmospheres, protection types d, e and n. So whether you need to ensure your motors won’t cause an explosion, or that your investment in new motors won’t backfire when the new legislation comes into effect, ERIKS is a useful first stop on a more efficient route to energy efficiency.

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