Ecodrive directive

The Ecodesign directive tightens regulations concerning electric motors. But you have a lot to gain both economically and environmentally by keeping track of technical opportunities. If you regulate motor speed you save electricity from day one and can be assured of following the law, even after 2015.

The Ecodesign directive is a tool for achieving the EU's target of a 20 percent reduction in energy use by 2020, with electric motors accounting for a third of that saving. If you do business in Europe then this will affect you. 

Why the focus on electric motors?

Electric motors account for a significant share of total electricity consumption in Europe, which is why they are coming under the microscope. Motors have a great potential for savings. In fact, with the right motor and dimensioning you can save up to 10% on electricity consumption. Controlling the motor speed using for example a frequency inverter, you can save even more — up to 60%.

Do you know the schedule?

1 January 2015 IE3 (Premium Efficiency) will be mandatory for motors from 7.5 to 375 kW.
1 January 2017, all motors from 0.75 to 375 kW must fulfill IE3. 

Motors controlled by variable speed drives are exempt from the IE3 classification. These motors only need to meet the IE2 efficiency level (High Efficiency) even after 2017 because of optimized operation gained from frequency inverters.

This is how you earn money from an EU Directive

Every company has the opportunity to meet these increasingly stringent requirements before they are enforced by simply operating smarter. These tougher energy classifications are already a fact. But there’s a lot to gain by keeping one step ahead of the rules.
Connecting frequency inverters to motors with varying loads and speeds brings significant energy savings, as the electric motor's speed can be adjusted according to need.

The improved efficiency of the entire drive system becomes a major factor and the potential for energy saving in an optimized system can be 30-60%.
The efficiency you lose by connecting an inverter is almost negligible. For some models the figure is reduced to a few percent. Higher enclosure classes (IP66), built-in functionality, sleek size, low iTHD (total harmonic current distortion) and a competitive price are additional factors that lead to speed control with inverters increasing in popularity.

Improved efficiency. What more do you need? 

Frequency inverters bring new technological opportunities. You can communicate between the motor and the control system and build in functions in that system. You can get more effect from the motors (overload), change speeds, and get automatic engine protection and temperature monitoring. Wear in the mechanical construction decreases when the motor and its associated mechanics have a soft start and stop. The ability to adjust motor speed optimizes production flow, leading to a better end product.

Inverter technology has developed rapidly and today there are competitive drive solutions with valuable built-in functionality tailored for different industries. Additionally, communication between the frequency inverter and control system gives you easier access to valuable information such as operating and maintenance data, and energy conservation in real numbers.

Like EcoDrive for industry 

EcoDrive is now an established driving style that reduces fuel consumption. You release the throttle and utilize the engine brake instead of accelerating and braking when driving. This energy-aware technology is directly applicable when it comes to motor power in industry. Instead of running the engine at full speed and braking, connect a frequency inverter to optimally control speed. It adds up less wear and maintenance, and immediate two-digit savings.

What does IE-classification mean? 

The IE classification system (IEC 60034-30-1: 2014) applies internationally and is used to measure the efficiency of devices including electric motors. Products covered by the system must conform to a certain energy and resource efficiency to be used in the EU by defined dates (see schedule earlier in the article). By prohibiting the most energy-inefficient products it is possible to make considerable savings.

The classification includes 1-speed, three-phase asynchronous motors with rated voltage up to 1,000 Volts, with a power rating of between 0.75 and 375 kW and 2, 4 or 6 poles that dominate the market. Eight-pole motors are not included in the IE classification, despite the fact that larger fans with direct drive and low speed require engines with lower rated speeds.

IE classification, implemented by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), replaces the old EFF classification system for low voltage AC motors, introduced by the European counterpart CEMEP. There are four defined classes, and power consumption is reduced by approximately 15% between the different IE-classes: 

IE1(Standard Efficiency)

IE2 (High Efficiency)

IE3 (Premium Efficiency)

IE4 (Super Premium Efficiency) * The IEC 60034-30-1: 2014 IE4 class has now been adopted and published. No IEC standard has yet been finally approved and published for IE5 ("Ultra Premium") electric motors.

Why now? 

From a global perspective, Europe is relatively late in terms of energy requirements on motors. In 1997, the United States introduced a law on IE2 classification and introduced a law on IE3 for both the 2, 4 - 6 - and 8-pole motors in 2010 (Canada 2011). Mexico, Australia and Brazil have introduced the IE2 class as a legal requirement. China legislated in 2011. In other words, these requirements affect all companies engaged in international business.