Hazardous area motors are no longer exempt

February 24, 2020 //By Marek Lukaszczyk
Strict regulations are synonymous with hazardous environments. Despite this, changes to legislation can still cause disruption. Europe has over 8 billion electric motors in use, consuming approximately 63 per cent of the electricity generated across the continent.

Until recently, some of these motors, including those designed for hazardous areas, were exempt from energy efficiency regulations — but these regulations are about to change. The latest changes to regulation will include a wider scope of motors, and for the first time, variable speed drives are included to achieve a higher efficiency standard, starting from July 2021.

Hazardous area motors, such as those used on oil rigs,
are being held to higher energy efficiency standards.

Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) was introduced in 2009 by EU Commission Regulation EC 640/2009. The regulation required motors of 0.75-375kW to reach international standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for single-speed three-phase motors. IE1 describes standard efficiency, IE2 is high efficiency and IE3 is used for motors with premium levels of efficiency.

Updates to the legislation in 2016 specified that electric motors require an energy efficiency class of at least IE3, or IE2 class if the motor is used with a variable speed drive (VSD). The regulation, bolstered by improved design and materials for electric motors, brought about huge improvements to the energy consumption related to motor use.

Unsurprisingly, the electric motor market rapidly reflected the shift in regulation and transitioned to more efficient motors. IE1 and below, which represented 80 per cent of European market share in 2009, held onto just 17 per cent of market share by 2016. During the same period, IE3 premium class motors rose from 0 per cent to 29 per cent of the market share. Good news for the planet and cost savings for the end user.

The design of electric motors has seen improvements to maximise on energy saving opportunities. Now, the European Commission’s (EC) ecodesign committee has approved a new, stricter version of the ecodesign requirements, which take effect from July 1, 2021.

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