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What EN 50598 really means for energy efficiency

10 October 2015

John Inskip examines the new European energy-related product standard, EN 5059, and finds out just how far-reaching its implications are for both domestic and industrial electrically powered machinery.

The way we use energy has become an important part of every business, large or small.  One of the key factors now taken into account when purchasing any piece of equipment – from industrial machinery to domestic washing machines – is that its energy efficiency has become a crucial selection criterion.

Any sort of machinery or plant that involves motion, will normally have an electric motor providing the rotation or movement.  There have been international efficiency (IE) standards pertaining to such motors for a number of years now, but as of January 2015, a new European energy-related product standard, EN 50598, was released, and it is applicable across the EU.

This standard is concerned with the efficiency of a motor driven system as a whole – the ‘extended product approach‘ – and one of the main components within this system is a variable speed drive.  It is a fact that in countries like Germany, industry accounts for about 30 percent of the country’s total energy consumption, and electrically powered systems are responsible for about 70 percent of industry’s energy consumption.  Energy costs amount to about 80 percent of the lifecycle costs of an electric drive; so, making sure these energy costs are minimised means making motor driven systems as efficient as possible.

The EN 50598 standard
The new EN 50598 standard refers to the combined efficiency of both an electric motor and variable speed drive on a power drive system (PDS). The new standard has three sub-sections: 
- EN 50598-1 – the procedure for determining the energy efficiency indicators of motor driven applications by using the extended product approach and semi-analytical models;
- EN 50598-2 – the energy efficiency indicators for power drive systems; 
- EN 50598-3 – the environmental aspects and product declaration for power drive systems and motor starters.

The estimated date for the new regulations to be enforced is 2018.

Using a variable speed drive in applications that utilise an electric motor can bring huge benefits in terms of energy efficiency and functionality.  And it’s now not just big industry that should be looking to create these benefits.  Much smaller businesses can, and should, benefit too.

When we consider energy efficiency, we must look at all areas of equipment and machinery, including everything from large industrial machinery to pumps for swimming pools, car park barriers and extraction equipment for restaurants and leisure facilities.  As can be seen from these random examples, the scope of this standard is potentially very far reaching.

Using and implementing the new standards require knowledge of the power drive system, data for the variable speed drive, motor and any auxiliary equipment required.  It is now a case of looking at the entire system holistically.  

Manufacturing industry is certainly no virgin territory for variable speed drives; the sector has been using them for a number of years, where they have provided key benefits, including energy efficiency, longer system life and the use of soft starting and braking functions to reduce mechanical stresses on downstream machinery.  These benefits have rarely been appreciated in areas other than commercial applications, as a variable speed drive is often perceived to be difficult to commission, unreliable and its applications misunderstood.  These are misconceptions; modern drive systems are both easy to use and very reliable.

Making things simple
To address these issues, Siemens recently launched its Sinamics V20 – a drive dedicated to simple applications that can bring benefits in terms of energy efficiency, reliability and ease of commissioning. It has also been made easier for those outside commercial applications to understand and operate. Moreover, Siemens experts will be able to select and specify the correct equipment to meet the requirements for EN 50598, and ensure that the benefits gained in terms of energy efficiency and reliability convert to financial benefit and a quick return on investment.

Today, no-one can afford to ignore energy efficiency, and the reach of the EU standards have with this new legislation spread much further than before, in an attempt to make us all – large and small businesses – much more efficient.  There is still time to make these changes before the legislation becomes mandatory, but now is the time to be looking at your whole motor driven system - not just the motor.

John Inskip is with Siemens Process Industries & Drives

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