ABB Ecodesign

Save enough electricity to power a whole country

Improving the energy efficiency of motors and drives sounds good in principle but what does it mean in practice?

This year on July 1st, the new EU Ecodesign Regulation (EU) 2019/1781 for motors and drives comes into force. This aims to reduce energy consumption across the whole of the European Union. While the new regulation will directly affect companies that buy, sell and use motors and drives it might be less clear how it will benefit the general public. So how much energy does the EU hope to save and what does it mean in practice?

According to the EU’s own estimates, there are about 8 billion electric motors in use in the EU*. This includes all the electric motors, including those in consumer devices like laptop fans, as well as larger industrial electric motors like water pumps and HVAC systems. By making these motors, and the drives that control them, more efficient the EU aims to save 110 Terawatt hours by 2030. To put that number in context, with the energy saved, you could provide power to the whole of the Netherlands for one year. That is a staggering fact: simply by using more efficient motors and drives, the EU will save more energy than an entire country uses per year.

“Simply by using more efficient motors and drives, the EU will save more energy than an entire country uses per year.”

Achievable energy savings

The good news is that these energy efficiency improvements are achievable. The change simply means that instead of using motors with the old IE2 minimum energy efficiency class, new motors will have to be IE3, and all new drives will have to be IE2. Products that comply with the new regulation have already been on the market for many years, so the switch is technically easy, and it will give motor owners clear energy savings and reduced running costs.

Adding drives to control these motors would improve energy savings even more. In fact, the right combination of drive and motor can cut energy bills by up to 60% compared to a motor continuously running at the full speed in direct-on-line (DOL) use.

This is only the beginning

However, while using more efficient motors and drives according to the new regulations will bring great benefits, there is still the potential to reduce energy consumption even further. This is because the regulations only specify the minimum efficiency standard required. There are, in fact, motors available which are significantly more efficient than the minimum level, and together with efficient drives they can give you even better performance, especially at partial loads.

By choosing highly efficient motors and variable speed drives, companies can save significant amounts of energy, and they can also ensure that they will comply with new energy efficiency requirements well into the future.

How much could our motors save?

Since ABB offers compliant products, it’s also worth asking what kind of difference ABB motors and drives might make to the world’s energy consumption. To answer, over the course of 2020, ABB’s installed base of high-efficiency motors and drives enabled 198 terawatt-hours of electricity savings, which is equivalent to over three times the total annual consumption of Switzerland.** Again, that’s a lot of saved electricity.

Find out more about the Ecodesign regulation

Learn more about what the new Ecodesign requirements mean for your motors and drives, and your business, and how ABB can help you ensure compliance. We explain which types of motors and drives the regulation applies to, here: Ecodesign for motors and drives | ABB

* https://ec.europa.eu/info/energy-climate-change-environment/standards-tools-and-labels/products-labelling-rules-and-requirements/energy-label-and-ecodesign/energy-efficient-products/electric-motors_en

** ABB urges greater adoption of high-efficiency motors and drives to combat climate change – global electricity consumption to be reduced by 10%

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