Accelerated motor replacement brings wide-ranging benefits
Brussels, May 2023: With the political agreement between the Council presidency and the European Parliament negotiators last month, the recast Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) is taking shape.
EU-MORE welcomes the fact that Member States can take full credit for policy measures aiming to accelerate the uptake of more efficient equipment. This is in line with the objectives of EU-MORE, a LIFE-Project aiming to speed up replacement of old, inefficient electric motors in industry and the service sector. Accelerating motor replacement in the EU will contribute an estimated 10% of the new final energy reduction target for 2030.
The political agreement – still provisional – sets the major target to reduce final energy consumption at EU level by 11.7% in 2030 compared to the forecasts for that year made in 2020, corresponding to a saving of around 1000 TWh. Member States will be obliged to shift up a gear in their energy savings obligation schemes if they are to contribute their share. In achieving this, they can take full credit for policy measures leading to older less energy efficient equipment being replaced by new and more efficient types before the usually expected renewal date. Under Annex V.2.k of the final compromise text, savings can accrue from the moment of replacement until the end of the average expected lifetime of the product replaced.
This paragraph in the EED, carried over from the 2018 edition, is likely to have huge positive implications for electric motors in industry and the service sector which currently tend to stay in service for 30 or 40 years. This is much longer than generally assumed and exceeds the figures used in Ecodesign regulation impact assessments. With swift action by Member States, this replacement rate could be improved, generating savings of 25 TWh per year in the EU, with all the associated benefits. This savings potential would be in addition to the current Ecodesign impact calculations, since these are based on motor sales figures before the effects of any accelerated replacement programme are taken into account.
Savings could be even greater if measures to address the efficiency of the entire motor system are put in place at the moment of replacement. Such measures include appropriate sizing of the motor, digitalisation, sensorisation, eliminating unnecessary transmission, and equipping motors with variable speed drives (VSDs). If entire systems are renovated, the additional savings potential could be as much as 73 – 133 TWh, or around 10% of the EU final energy reduction target for 2030.
Accelerating uptake makes even more sense because the new generation of efficient electric motors are manufactured from recyclable materials with high residual value, such as cast iron, electrical steel, plain carbon steel, aluminium, and copper. Recirculating these metals greatly reduces the emissions currently associated with producing primary metals, since recycling requires less energy than producing from virgin materials. This would ensure that programmes accelerating motor replacement are not at odds with the EU circular economy goals.