Energy efficient ABB transformers meet or exceed new EU ecodesign requirements

2014-06-10 - ABB is well prepared for new ecodesign transformer regulations that are coming into force within the EU`s internal market on June 11, 2014. The regulation means new transformers put into service in the EU must fulfill minimum energy efficiency requirements from July 1, 2015, giving the industry and market a grace period of about one year to adapt.

Large amounts of power pass through transformers, which account for 30-40 percent of the losses in transmission and distribution systems. Even a marginal increase in transformer efficiency can significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

The new EU ecodesign regulation covers small, medium and large power transformers used in electrical transmission and distribution networks, and for industrial applications. However, the regulation does not apply to all transformer products; for example, single phase transformers are unaffected.

The new legislation is intended to prevent high loss transformers from being installed in the EU, but the first phase (Tier 1) of efficiency requirements coming into play in July 2015 will become even stricter in the years ahead. By 2021, a Tier 2 standard will require transformer designs to be about 10 percent more energy efficient than Tier 1.

The European Commission (EC) estimates the combined effect of all ecodesign minimum efficiency regulations at full implementation will contribute to about one-third of its energy efficiency target. (The 20/20/20 targets include a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20 percent rise in the share of renewable resources to Europe’s energy needs, and 20 percent more efficiency in energy use across the EU).

By eliminating the worst performing transformer models, the EC expects energy savings in the range of 16 terawatt hours (TWh) per year from 2020 onwards (equal to about half the annual electricity consumption of Denmark), equivalent to 3.7 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 emissions avoided.

Transformers are generally very efficient devices, but even marginal improvements in their efficiency can yield substantial energy savings since their typical service life is 30 years or more. Multiply these new efficiencies by the estimated 3.6 million installed transformers in Europe in 2011, which is expected to rise to nearly 4.7 million units by 2025, and the energy savings are considerable.

The newest transformer regulation joins more than twenty other ecodesign regulations that have already been adopted in the EU dealing with household and industrial products, such as electric motors and pumps. Additional regulations are close to being adopted for other industrial products as well, like professional refrigeration and ventilation units.

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