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India has brought in regulations to cut the use of low efficiency motors. From now on, new low voltage (LV) motors installed in industry must meet IE2 or higher efficiency levels. This will help companies to reduce their energy costs and emissions, but they could benefit even more by replacing the low efficiency motors that are already in use. Are factory owners ready to take up the efficiency challenge? A savings of roughly one third of India’s energy use is at stake.
Making any product in India takes 30-60 percent more energy than in countries where manufacturing has achieved high levels of energy efficiency. Government initiatives to improve energy efficiency have included the establishment of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), an agency tasked with facilitating energy efficiency projects, and the introduction of regulations requiring industry to install only IE2 or higher efficiency motors.
EESL was founded in 2010 and has successfully implemented projects at grassroots level, including a scheme to boost the use of LED lights through a combination of subsidies and monthly payment plans. Similar programs for energy efficient fans and other appliances are targeting savings totaling close to 4 gigawatts (GW) of energy demand.
Now the spotlight has turned onto the industrial sector and LV motors. These are so widely used they are often called the “workhorses of industry”. The new regulations came into force in October 2017 and require industrial users to move to IE2 or higher efficiency motors. But what are IE2 motors? The relevant international and Indian standards define four efficiency classes for low voltage motors ranging from IE1 to IE4, where IE1 is the least efficient and IE4 the most efficient.
The shift to energy efficient motors will have a very positive impact on industry and the country. Industry consumes 40 percent of all the energy that is produced, with motors consuming roughly 65 percent of this share. Therefore, the new regulations will produce large energy savings over time, as the higher efficiency motors are installed.
However, industry could take this opportunity to go beyond regulatory requirements and replace the existing installed base of low efficiency motors with IE2-efficiency versions. If companies choose to do this, India could annually save close to 9,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy and an incredible 40 billion Indian rupees (more than $600 million) in energy bills, which is roughly about one third of the energy used in India. This could help India reach its goal of a 35 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, from 2005 levels by 2030, under the United Nations’ Paris Agreement.
Before the new regulations were introduced, acceptance of IE2 and higher efficiency motors in the market was not very encouraging. However, the Government’s backing for IE2 efficiency is seen as the missing link that will help industry to overcome its inertia. Minimum motor efficiency standards have already been successfully put in place by countries like Brazil, Australia, China, and Saudi Arabia. The EU and US have taken things further with IE3 for even higher efficiency levels.
An important positive step would be for motor manufacturers, as well as OEMs who package electric motors, to communicate the benefits of higher efficiency to industrial motor users. Some OEM segments such as compressors have proactively adopted IE3 motors, making energy efficiency one of their competitive advantages.
The Government has put a framework in place for industry to move towards a low-carbon future. It could push the agenda further by requiring its own agencies and state-owned enterprises to use only IE3-rated motors. At the same time it could encourage SME motor manufacturers to shift to producing IE2 as well as IE3 motors as standard, with the goal of maintaining a healthy equilibrium of supply and demand. And the Government could also promote the use of materials required for energy efficient motors, such as low-loss electrical steel.
But, ultimately, it is up to industry to take up the challenge and replace older motors with energy efficient products – a move that would bring energy savings and international acceptance of their operations.
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