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Less CO₂: Ecodesign is as important as the Emissions Trading Scheme

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By 2020, it is estimated that the Ecodesign Directive will save 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions within the EU – this is comparable to the Emissions Trading Scheme's (ETS) anticipated contribution to carbon dioxide reductions in 2020. In addition to the 13 existing and 20 forthcoming ecodesign measures for products, over the next two years the European Commission will adopt measures for Business to Business (B2B) products, such as professional refrigeration, electricity transformers, industrial furnaces and ovens, and air-conditioning and ventilation. There are also plans to include ‘energy-related’ products in the ecodesign strategy: products which do not directly use energy themselves, but promote energy saving.

By 2020, it is estimated that the Ecodesign Directive will save 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions within the EU – this is comparable to the Emissions Trading Scheme's (ETS) anticipated contribution to carbon dioxide reductions in 2020. In addition to the 13 existing and 20 forthcoming ecodesign measures for products, over the next two years the European Commission will adopt measures for Business to Business (B2B) products, such as professional refrigeration, electricity transformers, industrial furnaces and ovens, and air-conditioning and ventilation. There are also plans to include ‘energy-related’ products in the ecodesign strategy: products which do not directly use energy themselves, but promote energy saving.

The energy savings and wider reductions in product-related environmental impacts offered by ecodesign can play a major role in realising Europe's target of a sustainable future. Not only does ecodesign meet the growing demand for more eco-friendly products among consumers and companies, but it also offers European businesses a competitive advantage, as those businesses that respond quickest to demand will be best placed to compete globally, not just within the EU. Consumers will also benefit from lower energy bills and improved product performance.

The Ecodesign Directive provides consistent EU-wide rules for improving the environmental performance of energy-related products. The Directive has addressed mainly consumer products to date (e.g. washing machines, standby power use and light bulbs), but B2B product groups are now also being addressed [see table for examples]. B2B product examples include electricity transformers (which ‘step down’ the voltage from electricity power stations and power lines to the voltage power used in industry, or at home), professional refrigeration (as used in restaurants), commercial ventilation systems (used in office blocks and homes) and metal and wood-working machine tools (utilised to manufacture components for many important EU sectors, e.g. aerospace and automotive).

B2B ecodesign examines only the aspects of products that have a significant potential for improved environmental performance, and where implementation of measures can be checked by market surveillance authorities and other enforcement bodies.

The EU is not looking to add to manufacturers' administrative burden. Rather, ecodesign allows manufacturers to gain a competitive edge through the improved performance of their products.

New business-to-business (B2B) ecodesign product group

B2B Ecodesign "Lot"

B2B product group

Preparatory studies

(TWh)

Possible implementing measure & date

Measure foreseen to apply from

Start

End

Estimated energy savings per year in 2020

ENTR Lot 1

Professional refrigeration

Jan 09

Feb 11

6 TWh

Regulation + Labelling: 2014

2015-16

 

ENTR Lot 2

Transformers

Jan 09

Feb 11

12 TWh

Regulation: 2014

2015-16

ENTR Lot 3

Sound & imaging Equipment

Jan 09

Nov 10

4 TWh

Voluntary agreement: 2014

2015-16

ENTR Lot 4

Industrial ovens & furnaces

Jan 10

Aug 12

35 TWh

Regulation + Labelling (small-medium products): 2015

2016-17

ENTR Lot 5

Machine tools

Jan 10

Jul 12

4 TWh

Voluntary agreement: 2014-15

2015-16

ENTR Lot 6

Air-conditioning & ventilation systems

Jan 10

Dec 12

100 TWh

Regulation: 2015

2016-17

Projected annual energy savings by the year 2020

c. 160 TWh

Equivalent to c. 80 million tonnes of CO2 saved annually

B2B ecodesign examines only the aspects of products that have a significant potential for improved environmental performance, and where implementation of measures can be checked by market surveillance authorities and other enforcement bodies.

The EU is not looking to add to manufacturers' administrative burden. Rather, ecodesign allows manufacturers to gain a competitive edge through the improved performance of their products.

Transformers – a B2B ecodesign measure in progress

The draft ecodesign regulation on transformers will improve the energy efficiency of power distribution transformers. Although transformers are already very efficient devices, their energy losses account for around 2.5% of the EU's final energy consumption. Pushing their energy efficiency up a notch through regulation could yield savings of over 10TWh per year by 2020 (roughly equivalent to the annual electricity production of a small nuclear plant). The proposed regulation, together with new European standards under development, will bring the EU in line with the strictest international transformer regulations. European manufacturers, electricity utilities and environmental NGOs are widely supportive of the proposed regulation, as it is likely to amplify existing market trends to design more efficient transformers.

The potential for savings is enormous. The 160 billion kWh annual projected energy savings shown in the table are equivalent to the yearly power output of 16 small nuclear stations, or around 25% of all EU-wide renewable electricity consumed (2009 statistics). These B2B savings will increase every year from 2020 onwards, as the ecodesign measures become tighter, and new products progressively replace older ones. Other design measures also being considered include reducing the global warming potential of refrigerant gases used, cutting down on hydraulic oil and lubricants, and using less energy-intensive welding gases.

B2B products represent only 20% of savings; the other 80% comprise ongoing ecodesign savings from consumer products. The total estimated CO2 equivalent savings by 2020 for the 20-plus ecodesign product groups (consumer + B2B) is around 800 TWh, or some 400 million tonnes of CO2 per year (25% from heat savings, and 75% from electricity savings), which is the same annual CO2 reduction impact as estimated for the ETS in 2020. A recent Ecofys study concluded that EU business and consumers could save up to €90 billion if current measures are properly implemented, reducing the EU's energy dependency by over 20%.

Per household, Ecofys estimated electricity and heating savings of  about €280 per year for consumer-related ecodesign products, based on four electricity products (e.g. washing machine, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner) and two heating appliances (e.g. boiler/ heat pump and water heating device). These savings include the cost of purchasing new appliances, spread over their lifetime.

Ecodesign – How does the process work?

The Ecodesign Directive (also known as ‘Energy-related Products’, or ‘ErP’) is the EU's first ‘life cycle’ oriented directive addressing products. Product groups are selected via a Working Plan whereby the European Commission, in consultation with industry, consumer and environmental associations and Member States, chooses which products to examine. ‘Preparatory studies’ are conducted usually over two years for each product group, to examine worldwide best-practice standards, ecodesign possibilities, and to cross-check whether EU standardisation procedures need to be mandated (via CEN-CENELEC) or at international level (via ISO). New, old and ‘Best Available Technology’ (and even ‘Best Not Available Technologies’ – to be future-oriented) technologies within a product group are explored, together with market details (present sales, future trends and historical stock). Ecodesign starts off by looking at all environmental impacts, via a slightly streamlined Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) model, which includes Life Cycle Costs (LCC). Detailed affordability checks are made regarding costs to consumers, businesses (as users) and manufacturers, including SMEs.

The subsequent process of determining minimum ecodesign requirements for the different products includes ample consultations with stakeholders, via stakeholder meetings, and more formal Consultation Fora. Ecodesign minimum standards may be combined with Energy Labelling (the familiar ‘A-G’ label, found on refrigerators, etc).

Taking stock, and taking on energy-related products

The review of the effectiveness of the Ecodesign Directive will be finalised in 2012, as well as the second Working Plan (2012-2014); which will include the first energy-related products, e.g. window products (triple glazing etc.) and insulation materials, and some additional B2B product groups.

Ecodesign in SMEs

A call for proposals on promoting ecodesign in SMEs will be launched in November 2012, via the Enterprise Europe Network (‘the Network’). The aim of this call is to promote awareness and expertise amongst SMEs, and some will be across the EU. From April 2013 the Network members will support the call organisations and 5 000 targeted SMEs with education expertise and ecodesign training.

Contact

‘Sustainable Industrial Policy’ Unit
Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry

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