This piece was originally published in the November 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Kirk Anderson, Industry Director, Industrial Products and Systems Division, NEMA
If you ask my children if they would like another scoop of ice cream, they will scream, “more, more,” only to find they have stomachaches later. So it is with increasing energy-efficiency levels.
Over the last 30 years, the motor industry has increased efficiency for the typical 5 hp motor from 85 percent to more than 90 percent. Yet regulators and some energy advocates continue to propose higher levels. Requiring changes to one area, without considering how it interacts with other aspects of the system, may lead to reduced energy savings and other unintended consequences. Just as adding another scoop of ice cream isn’t necessarily reasonable, continuing to raise the efficiency levels on individual components doesn’t necessarily yield greater savings or better products.
While motors can be tested and measurements made, it does not always translate into reducing wasted energy. As a result, NEMA’s focus has shifted from merely increasing energy efficiency to focusing on a more meaningful goal of total energy savings.
One hurdle to developing system efficiency standards is a method to accurately estimate energy use during the intended use of the product, rather than at a single test point. This is reflected in IEC 61800-9-2 Adjustable speed electrical power drive systems—Part 9-2: Ecodesign for power drive systems, motor starters, power electronics and their driven applications—Energy efficiency indicators for power drive systems and motor starters. The next steps will be to shift from the existing mantra of more regulation is better (more ice cream, please) to a philosophy of saving energy through better energy management at the system level and increased compliance with existing regulations.
NEMA will be among the industry experts presenting on energy management and other subjects at the 2018 Motor Summit, November 14-15, in Zurich, Switzerland. Learn more at www.motorsummit.ch/de/2018.