Maximising eco efficiency

25 January 2016

In this article Dean Abbott, technical officer for the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) brings us up to date on the Eco-design directive (2009/125/EC) – Lot 31 and argues for a sensible and achievable approach for compressed air manufacturers

Work continues apace with the EU Eco-design directive (2009/125/EC), which outlines the general principles that OEMs must adopt to achieve energy efficient equipment designs across the EU.

For the compressor industry a consequence of this work was to initiate an Eco-design Preparatory study (ENER Lot 31). This has allowed discussions to take place between an EU appointed consultancy and the industry that is represented through the European body PNEUROP.

The idea behind this study was to provide the European Commission with a technical, environmental and economic analysis of the compressor industry.  

What is covered?

The scope of the study covers rotary standard air compressor packages with a maximum flow rate of 5 to 1280L/s and piston standard air compressor packages with a maximum flow rate of 2 to 64L/s.  To ensure that the report only considered commercial machines, it was also decided that the report would only cover those packages with a three phase electrical supply.

Taking a step back from all of this, we need to recognise that the whole reason for the Eco-design directive is the long term and continued reduction of energy costs throughout the EU and that stakeholders need to be able attain whatever is implemented.

With this in mind PNEUROP has considered the potential impact of the legislation and the impact of the potential regulated energy savings as far as the compressor industry is concerned.

As part of this process the organisation considered several different scenarios and how this would affect the objective of saving energy and its affect on OEMs.

The scenarios considered ranged from 'Business as usual' (BAU), which would yield potential total energy savings of up to 16% by 2030, through to much more restrictive scenarios that would have a considerable impact if adopted and cause many a sleepless night across manufacturers’ boardrooms throughout Europe.

In practice, it is recognised that a 'business as usual' approach is unlikely to be recognised, but equally legislation should not drive proposals that are unachievable by industry.

PNEUROP has now drafted its report responding to the Preparatory study (ENER Lot 31) and, after considering all of the various scenarios and given due consideration to the potential economic consequences of the regulation, it has recommended the adoption of ‘scenario 1’ as the preferred option.  

This, the organisation argues is a fair solution. If accepted it could mean that 22 to 27% of current compressors currently available for sale in the EU would have to be withdrawn by 2018, rising to 40 to 45% of compressors by 2020.  

Such a staged response would achieve excellent energy savings and also be realistic as far as manufacturers are concerned. After all, virtually all OEMs are already firmly on board with energy savings and it gives them time to do the necessary research and development and further improve their products.

Future moves

Going forward, oil free and low pressure compressors will now be considered, these having been excluded from the original report for various reasons. The Commission has appointed the same study writer to review these compressor categories and initial meetings have been held to establish the requirements and scope of the study. It is anticipated that the regulation for oil free and low pressure compressors would be completed by mid 2018.

As a consequence of new legislation on its way, there is a need to update some of the existing compressor performance standards. This work is ongoing and appointed specialists are in the process of drafting their responses.

So work continues and it is important that as an industry we remain actively involved in helping to define our own future. Energy efficiency is quite rightly at the top of the agenda, but it is the manufacturers who deliver these results. Collaboration is the order of the day, which is why it is important to have your views expressed through PNEUROP by BCAS.

Watch this space…