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Energy savings through systems engineering

12 September 2011

Finite energy resources and global warming have galvanised governments around the world to introduce legislation that places considerable responsibility for energy conservation on commerce and industry and their capital equipment suppliers. Richard Burke reports on a timely conference that will gather this Autumn to examine the implications of this legislation and how technology can best serve the interests of energy consumers

In a unique collaboration, five UK trade associations - GAMBICA, BPMA, BCAS, BEAMA and FETA - have joined together to organise a conference that will examine the effects of new and existing legislation on that largest consumer of electrical energy – the motor driven system. The conference – Motor Drive Systems (MDS) 2011 – will take place in Solihull on November 9 and 10, and will have the support of many leading manufacturers, including event sponsors, WEG Electric Motors, Siemens and ebm-papst, and event partners, ABB and Rittal

Chris Dee, executive director of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), believes the MDS Conference will be an opportunity to examine developments within the motor driven systems sector that impact upon energy and the environment, as well as highlighting the potential economic implications of current and future legislation. With various legislative measures – the Energy-using Products (EuP) Directive, Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA) and the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) - already in place or scheduled to be introduced over the coming months and years, this conference couldn’t be more timely.

Various studies conducted and presented by the Department of Energy in the USA and the European Commission estimate that 40% of the world’s total electricity consumption by commerce and industry is as a result of the use of electric motors and motor driven systems such as pumps, fans and compressors. The Conference will provide a platform for all stakeholders – from government (a representative from DEFRA will open the session) to manufacturers and technical experts.

With the new global Energy Management standard published in June this year, the pressure is now on for end users to take positive steps and address the problem of energy conservation. From June 16 2011 (when the European Minimum Energy Performance Standard – or EU MEPS – came into force) motors of a certain type and power range had to meet the IE2 efficiency classification at the very least.

Leading manufacturers have had this legislation in their sights for some time now. WEG Electric Motors, for example, has exceeded its requirements with the introduction of the W22X series explosion-proof IE2 and IE3 standard high efficiency electric motors. The company believes that IE2 and IE3 standard motors provide end users with a better return on investment as they can be purchased without paying a cost premium.

In response to the new legislation, MDS event sponsor, Siemens Industry Automation & Drive Technologies (IA&DT) recently launched a motor scrappage scheme to help motor users with costs associated with the adoption of EU MEPS, which effectively prevents the manufacture and sale of standard electric motors beneath the IE2 (previously Eff1) efficiency classification. The initiative will enable customers to claim a fixed allowance against any LV motors from any manufacturer through Siemens’ nationwide network of partners if they purchase a new Siemens IE2 motor from a partner. The partner will then collect the scrapped motor. This scheme runs until December 31 2011.

The MDS conference concept has attracted companies who are not motor manufacturers. Rittal, for example, a leading supplier of enclosures, enclosure accessories and power distribution systems to industry, commerce and the IT sector, places energy and cost efficiencies high in its product design agenda. The company considers the topic to be of sufficient importance that it has signed up to be an MDS conference event partner.

The MDS Conference will be seeking to demonstrate the benefits of energy saving to as wide an audience as possible. It will be of direct interest, not just to engineers, but to senior decision makers, financial heads, energy managers, plant engineers and facilities managers across the manufacturing and processing industry sectors, and indeed any other sectors where pumps, compressed air, motors, drives, controls and fans have their part to play.

As BEAMA project director, John Parsons reminds us, motor purchasers are often OEMs who incorporate a motor into a product; they are not likely to have any real interest in its efficiency as they don’t ultimately own it or pay for its running costs. And even end-user purchasers of motors often base their decision on initial cost rather than life-time costs.

Variable speed drives
Part of the conference will highlight the important role variable speed drives (VSDs) have to play in saving energy, as GAMBICA’s industrial automation sector leader, Steve Brambley explains:

“Only about ten per cent of motors in use in British industry have VSDs fitted. It seems clear that a progressive company can gain advantage over their competitors by ensuring that their own equipment and anything they manufacture takes advantage of the benefits VSDs provide.

“Systems thinking can yield significant gains in efficiency and performance. Control systems taken in isolation could be seen to consume energy, however, in many cases  this is outweighed by the far greater efficiency gains that intelligent control brings to the whole system.

On pump and fan drives, Steve Ruddell, manager of ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division, reminds us that these systems run at less than full capacity for much of the time. “VSDs can produce huge savings,” he says. “If a 100kW pump is throttled back by 20%, for example, the investment in installing a VSD will have a payback of typically six months based on continuous operation. As a retrofit item, the VSD can be one of the most effective factors for producing energy savings. Insulating a building can give a return on investment over 30 years, whereas the VSD achieves this in two years or less.”

Government, in the guise of the Carbon Trust, is currently offering incentives. The Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme means a business can claim 100% first year capital allowance on their VSD purchases. Even more significantly, there is a loan scheme, which allows small companies and SMEs to use an interest-free loan to pay for the VSD and its installation.

Steve Barker, head of energy efficiency and environmental care at Siemens reminds us that motor driven systems are the largest single consumer of energy in the UK and therefore presents a huge opportunity for end users to improve profitability, minimise carbon emissions and increase equipment availability.

“We therefore support the principle of a conference dedicated to providing insights into best practice system engineering designed to reduce costs, improve reliability and enhance operational efficiency,” he says. “In addition to learning about the latest legislative and regulatory issues, delegates should also gain a real insight into the technical, practical and financial opportunities available.”

Richard Burke is with MDS 2011 conference organiser, Touchwave Media.

To book conference places, contact Touchwave Media’s Andrew Castle on 07785 290034 or click here

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