Global AC drives manufacturer Vacon is in the forefront of complying with new European energy-efficiency standard EN 50598-2, which will enter into force by the end of this year.

Specifically, the standard defines a classification scheme for AC drives. All of Vacon’s AC drives comfortably exceed the requirements for the IE2 class, the lowest loss category currently defined.

The European economic strategy programme ‘Europe 2020’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and there is another reduction plan for 2030. Standard induction motors alone consume approximately 30% of all the electricity generated in the world. This explains why motors and the systems they drive are so crucial when discussing energy savings.

However, the current measures, which just cover the energy efficiency of motors, are not enough to reach this strategy’s ambitious goal. The new standard EN 50598-2 looks beyond just the motor, creating unified requirements for the energy efficiency of entire motor-driven systems.

Vacon technical director, marketing Michael Björkman said: "Vacon’s AC drives play a key role in minimising losses and thus boosting energy efficiency in all motor-driven systems.

"These drives offer speed control for applications and processes where the output must be controlled under changing requirements. The energy losses in AC drives are almost negligible, but the potential for overall savings by matching motor speed to load requirements is staggering. The new energy efficiency standard will put even more emphasis on the importance of AC drives technology, and in this respect Vacon plays a key role in implementing the standard."

Technically speaking, the EN 50598-2 standard defines a way of calculating the Energy Efficiency Index (EEI) for any driven system. The lower the EEI, the more efficient the system is. In defining the overall EEI, two things are considered: the system losses at various working points and the time the system operates at these working points. In order to be able to calculate the total system losses, the EN 50598-2 defines that the losses of the AC drive and motor have to be specified at eight different working points. Vacon provides the losses at the eight points of reference required for the EEI calculation for all of its AC drives.

"In addition to complying with the new standard, all of Vacon’s AC drives already offer a unique feature for monitoring energy efficiency," Björkman added.

"The control panel of each drive allows users to monitor and optimise their energy usage with a clear and simple MWh counter. This feature is designed to let you minimise losses and achieve the improved energy efficiency you are striving for."