Driving energy efficiency standards home

WITH the knowledge that energy consumed by appliances and equipment is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, improving energy efficiency and reducing the impacts of climate change are becoming key concerns for Australian manufacturing.

The Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) was implemented to eliminate inefficient motors in Australia, but how does the standard measure up for manufacturers? Katherine Crichton reports.

WITH the knowledge that energy consumed by appliances and equipment is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, improving energy efficiency and reducing the impacts of climate change are becoming key concerns for Australia’s manufacturing industry.

In order to address these issues, the Australian Government introduced the Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) in October 2001, followed by a more stringent version (MEPS2), in April 2006.

While the benefits of MEPS include substantial total cost of ownership savings for end users and a reduction in greenhouse gases, the full potential of MEPS is not being realised with improvements in both communication and regulation of the standard needed.

In an effort to better disseminate information about MEPS, the Rotating Machines Forum was created to develop a closer working relationship between the regulators, the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO), and industry. Manufacturers Monthly spoke to three companies involved.

A question of education

James Carlon, motors and machines manager at ABB Australia, says one of the main issues discussed at the forum was the general lack of knowledge about MEPS.

“The standard applies to Australian OEMS and distributors who manufacture or import three phrase electric motors with the range of 0.73kW to 185kW and with 2, 4, 6, 8 poles,” Carlon told Manufacturers Monthly.

“Products must meet these requirements in order to be legally registered and sold into the local market.

“Some importers are still not aware of this, and this is especially apparent in tender situations where companies import cheaper (and generally less efficient) motors on equipment which may not meet the standards,” he said.

Sean Richardson, market development manager for Bonfiglioli Transmission (Australia), says one of the major challenges of implementing the standard has been the flow of information and communication between the legislators, manufactures and industry.

“Many plant engineers and designers as well as OEMs still haven’t heard about MEPS, let alone have planned for the changes required,” Richardson explained.

“Industry has already been hugely affected by the introduction of the standard with many manufacturers investing both time and resources in educating the market as well as delivering new, conforming products.”

With countries like China moving to have their efficiency standards match Australia by 2010, Frank Cerra, engineering manager with SEW Eurodrive, says Australia is at the front of a global trend.

“With the introduction of MEPS, manufacturers in Australia have had to rethink the design of their motors and look at ways they can make their products more efficient.

“The emphasis will be on the cost of running inefficient motors and this will drive users to demand more efficient products.

“By Australian manufacturers adopting MEPS, we will ensure that we are keeping in line with future practices,” he said.

Regulations

Currently each territory and state has a government body dedicated to enforcing the standards and though there are systems in place to deter manufacturers from ignoring the mandatory regulations including fines, Carlon, Cerra and Richardson agree enforcing the standard, particularly in regards to imported products, is a concern.

“While there is a regime of motor efficiency verification tests, there is still concern that some misinformed minor suppliers and OEMs are supplying non-compliant, illegal product into the Australian market,” Carlon explained.

“There is also concern that complete plant equipment is being imported into the country with non-compliant motors fitted by overseas OEMs,” he said.

Richardson also agrees information about the legal obligations of the importer is an issue and says monitoring of these products in also in question.

“At the moment, the regulators rely on a ‘concerned citizen’ style of reporting offences insofar as, if a manufacturer or a user suspects that a company or individual is doing the wrong thing, then they should report it to the regulator for action to be taken,” Richardson said.

Cerra believes ultimately it will be the end users who will have the biggest impact on the success of the standard in Australia.

“I think education of end users about the significant savings that can be achieved across the entire drive system would help eliminate some of the issues surrounding regulating and monitoring importing products as well,” Cerra told Manufacturers Monthly.

Currently some parts of Europe have introduced a rebate scheme that rewards customers for using only high and premium efficiency motors in their plants and factories, and Richardson suggests Australia should look at doing the same.

“A financial incentive would create a consumer demand that will then allow manufactures to produce motors at a better price via economies of scale,” Richardson said.

“This in turn will lead to more high efficiency motors being installed.”

With discussions moving towards implementing a MEPS 3 in the future, Carlon says he would like to see a MEPS 3 on systems rather than products.

“Ideally this would increase the efficiency requirement of the total system and not just the motor.

“However, for the majority of applications, the most significant improvement of total system efficiency will come from the use of a variable speed drive. Again, regulation of this would have to be addressed,” Carlon said.

For more information contact:

ABB Australia – www.abbaustralia.com.au

Bonfiglioli Transmission – www.bonfiglioli.com.au

SEW-Eurodrive 03 9933 1062 – www.sew-eurodrive.com.au

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