Wednesday, 17 February 2016


Andy Preston, UK drives product manager, ABB writes: there are changes on the way in the world of drives and drive systems. New European standards were introduced earlier this year and, with more on the way, it makes sense to be aware of what’s going on at the moment, and what’s in store for the near future.

In a nutshell
The Ecodesign directive is a piece of EU legislation designed to implement the adoption of ever more efficient systems, ultimately reducing their environmental impact. This is achieved by introducing new minimum energy performance standards (MEPS), which start off as voluntary recommendations from expert bodies in the industry of what these minimum standards should be, which over time invariably become enshrined in law. Up until recently, Ecodesign was also referred to as the energy-using products (EuP) directive; however in 2009 its mandate was changed to relate to all energy-related products (ErP), so as to include all products that have an indirect impact on energy consumption such as insulation, windows etc. as well as those that just use energy.

So what’s EN 50598?
EN 50598 is one such standard, and relates to the efficiency of complete drive modules (CDM) and power drive systems (PDS). It is comprised of:

  • EN 50598-1: Released as a standard in December 2014 and specifies the methodology to determine the energy efficiency index of an application. The methodology is called extended product approach (EPA) and is based on the concept of semi analytical models (SAM). This relates to energy efficiency standards for power driven equipment, or rather, looking at the efficiency of the whole drive train e.g., drive, motor and pump combined.
  • EN 50598-2: Also released in December 2014, specifies the energy efficiency indicators for power electronics (e.g. CDM, PDS and motor starters), all used for motor-driven equipment in the power range of 0.12 kW up to 1000 kW (100 to 1,000 V). Parts of this has become law through the Ecodesign directive whereby, as of January 1 2018, the CDM will need to be a minimum of efficiency level IE1.  Unfortunately the “IE” levels for motors and drives have not been “lined” up, so an IE2 drive, which is 98 percent efficient is substantially more efficient than say an IE4 motor, so at first glance the drive would seem to have a lower IE rating.
  • EN 50598-3: This third part was released in March 2015, and relates to quantitative Ecodesign approach through life cycle assessment, product category rules and environmental declarations. What this means is that systems will need to be designed to meet an efficiency level, which is not the same as choosing components at best efficiency point (BEP).


It is well worth noting at this point that these are standards rather than directives, which are enforceable by law. Down the line it’s highly likely that these standards will become the law, or at least part of it, but for the time being they are purely voluntary. The directive here is actually Ecodesign, and EN 50598 is merely a part of its overall objective to improve energy savings.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t take it seriously, particularly considering that another aspect of Ecodesign became law on January 1 2015. This regulation, otherwise known as EU MEPS Regulation 640/2009, requires that any new IE2 motor purchased from January 1 onwards must be used with a variable-speed drive (VSD). It simply goes to show that, even if these standards are technically voluntary at present it’s always best practice to implement them as soon as possible, as aside from improving efficiency in the first place, it’s only a matter of time before they become law. Companies like ABB which manufacture the drives, motors and some of the drive train are best placed to assist with these system designs, as we understand the “whole picture”, and are able to assist designers and consultants to make the best choices, which is rarely just choosing the most efficient components.

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