As the world prepares for COP21, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, the International Energy Agency estimates in its 2015 Energy Efficiency Market Report that energy efficiency is the most effective tool to reduce green-house gas emissions with an aim to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or below.
IEC work is behind-the-scenes helping to increase energy efficiency and reduce the amount of energy that is lost in everyday consumption.
The IEA has found in 2014 that energy efficiency improvements in IEA countries over the last 25 years have saved households and businesses USD 550 billion. In addition, energy efficiency improvements since 1990 have avoided a cumulative 10.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in IEA countries.
Redesign the energy chain
In order to increase energy efficiency there is also a need to look at how we generate and consume energy, to redesign systems on a global scale, rather than individual products in specific countries or regions. Right now a lot of raw energy is wasted. The smarter use of electric energy, what the IEC calls ‘smart electrification’, can help reduce emissions. For this, globally accepted metrics and technological expertise such as those developed by the IEC need to be applied to achieve optimal outcomes and eliminate market confusion.
Industrial energy saving motors
Reducing energy waste in electric motors is a concrete example of IEC work in action. Industry, especially electric motor systems are estimated to account for more than 40% of global electricity use(1). Two thirds of all electricity used by industry drives electric motor systems. They convert electrical energy to mechanical energy, rotate pumps, drive compressors, move materials and run fans, blowers, drills or mixers. Motors are huge consumers of electricity, even small improvements can lead to large energy savings.
IE codes drive efficiency
The IEC has put in place energy efficiency classes for electric motors. These allow manufacturers and regulators to easily identify how efficient an individual motor performs. . Each level of efficiency has its own IE code. Their performance criteria are summarized in IEC International Standard: IEC 60034-30-1. The IEC classification system includes four levels of motor efficiency:
- IE1 Standard efficiency
- IE2 High efficiency
- IE3 Premium efficiency
- IE4 Super premium efficiency.
The IE codes help regulators to clearly define minimum efficiency levels for electric motor energy performance in their regulations. The IEC 60034-30-1 classification system has stimulated competition among motor manufacturers and generated massive technology improvements. While IEC International Standards are voluntary, the European Union (EU) and numerous other countries have adopted the IEC classification system.
In the EU, Directive 640/2009, became effective as of January 2015 for motors with a rated output from 7.5-375 kW and from 2017 for motors with a rated output from 0.75-375 kW. This measure, which is generally referred to as EU Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS), is expected to result in energy efficiency improvements of 20% to 30%. An internationally harmonized efficiency Standard IEC 60034-30 was developed under German leadership within the IEC.
More information about IEC IE energy efficiency classes for electric motors is available here.1. Paul Waide, Conrad U. Brunner et al.: Energy-Efficiency Policy Opportunities for Electric Motor-Driven Systems, International Energy Agency Working Paper, Paris, 2011.