Energy Efficiency: from theory to reality

Council Open Session – 16 October 2015

By Gabriela Ehrlich

Increasing the efficiency on how energy is generated and then used, should not remain idle talk. And while measuring is important to know where to improve, factual changes on the ground will make all the difference.

Global trade
The ability to trade beyond borders directly depends on International Standards

Moderated by Richard Schomberg, Chair of Systems Committee (SyC) Smart Energy, the IEC Open Session in Minsk addressed both energy efficiency and global trade. Each of these topics relies extensively on IEC work for the benefit of industry, regulators and consumers.

The IEC President, Dr Junji Nomura officially opened the Council Open Session. His talk was followed by a panel of speakers who focused on different aspects that improve energy efficiency, and on the impact of International Standards and conformity assessment on global trade. Several case studies from different regions of the world completed the session.   

Increasing energy security

Richard Schomberg introduced the Council Open Session by stating that smart electrification will be the key to energy efficiency. In his view, smart electrification will also be essential for improving energy security through “virtual fuel that is locally generated”.

Ensuring life is on

The first speaker, Jean-Louis Stasi, President of Schneider Electric Russia, presented some of the fundamental changes that will impact how energy is produced and consumed in the coming years. His company believes that “energy access is a basic human right and the present way of managing energy is unsustainable.”

And while 1,3 billion people still have no access to electricity, with a further 1 billion having only intermittent access, megatrends continue to accelerate energy demand.

These trends include:

  • Massive urbanization with up to 70% of people living in cities by 2050;
  • Digitization leading to an estimated 50 billion connected devices by 2020;
  • Increasing industrialization which will double energy consumption by 2050;

Considering that energy consumption will double and the emission of CO2 needs to be halved we have to become 4 times more efficient.

Stasi believes that in the not so distant future the world will be more electric, more connected, more distributed and more efficient. Buildings and data centres alone represent an untapped energy efficiency potential of 82%.

New technologies will contribute to mitigating climate change, freeing resources that can be used elsewhere. Notably the integration of energy, software and analytics, with automation will lead to significant improvements in efficiency and control.

Systems approach for better efficiency outcomes

Toru Ishikuma, member of the IEC Advisory Committee on Energy Efficiency (ACEE) provided insights into how a systems approach in energy efficiency management can lead to better outcomes and how this is supported by IEC International Standards. As an example he explained how energy efficiency improvements that can be achieved in industrial facilities.

Ishikuma gave a very telling example of an automotive parts manufacturer, who, despite having optimized individual manufacturing processes, still noticed significant energy waste. 

By combining separate units – machining, cleaning and steam generation – into a single system the company was ultimately able to reduce energy consumption by an impressive additional 80%. This was achieved by replacing a boiler with a heat exchanger and thus benefiting from heat generated by machining for the cooling of parts.

Lesson learned: equipment replacement in combination with drastic process changes can achieve fundamental energy efficiency improvements in a systems approach.

Ishikuma pointed out that exactly this kind of systems thinking is now also applied in the IEC.  Closer collaboration between many different technical committees leads to new Standards that allow for improved integration of different technologies. Standards are highly useful since they provide a unified vision between different countries, sectors and technologies. ACEE is now developing two new guides on energy efficiency. 

Testing and verification: providing essential proof

Trond Sollie, member of IECEE and of the IEC Conformity Assessment Board (CAB), as well as President of the IEC National Committee of Norway briefly mentioned the key role testing and verification plays in verifying energy efficiency claims. He then gave an overview of the principles and structure that drive the IECEE Conformity Assessment System.

Essential for global trade

Devin McDaniels, Deputy-Secretary of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee, provided insights into the fundamental contribution of IEC International Standards and the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems to global trade.

Celebrating the 20th birthday of the WTO TBT agreement, McDaniels underlined that the WTO continues to resolve and remove trade issues and has reviewed 25 000 drafted or changed regulations since it started 20 years ago. At the time 20% of notifications regarding trade issues came from developing countries, today this has reached 80%.

McDaniels underlined that while import duties continue to fall – on average they are now at 9% across the board – regional trade facilitation agreements are increasing due to challenges in the WTO forum. 72% of trade concerns deal with TBT issues and 85% encourage the use of International Standards, directly or through reference. International Standards are now recognized as essential in all contemporary trade negotiations.

A big trend is the fragmented production in global value chains. In electrotechnology, parts and subassemblies travel through many countries until they are assembled and shipped as a final product to anywhere in the world. International Standards are essential for global trade and this is recognized in the TBT agreement.

The TBT agreement obliges WTO members to use International Standards in their regulations. This is also a harmonization requirement for achieving international policy objectives.

McDaniels underlined that WTO believes that better International Standards result in better trade. A good International Standards has to follow 6 principles:

  • Transparency
  • Openness
  • Impartiality and consensus procedures
  • Effectiveness and relevance (need to respond to technology development)
  • Coherence
  • Development – country participation in standard setting

McDaniels also complimented the IEC on the Affiliate Country Programme which helps developing countries to adopt and apply International Standards.

He concluded his talk by underlining that a rise in trade concerns is now related to testing and verification and the solution endorsed by WTO is the increased use of international systems for conformity assessment.

After the coffee break, participants heard case studies regarding the practical implementation of energy efficiency technologies from different regions in the world.

More efficient appliances preferred

Tak Leong Cheong,Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) Secretary provided insights into how Singapore implements energy efficiency measures, providing concrete examples of economic benefits. He outlined results achieved by mandatory energy labelling which has led to a gradual shift of behaviour: consumers now give preference to appliances with higher energy efficiency ratings. 

Better outcomes and new opportunities

Bernhard Thies, Secretary of the IEC National Committee of Germany, DKE, stated that “energy efficiency is the most exciting technology that you have never seen before”. People are totally unaware of the cost of electricity, but everybody knows how much they spend on a litre of gasoline and so efficiency gains remain underappreciated.

Thies provided insights into European efforts to improve energy use. First results are in: For example, new buildings now consume 50% less energy than in the 1980s; EU industry reduced energy consumption by almost 19% between 2001 and 2011; the share of the highest energy efficiency refrigerators rose to more than 90% in 2010, compared to 5% in 1995.

As a side-effect: for every 1% improvement in energy efficiency, the EU is able to reduce gas imports by 2.6%. Air quality is improved and due to better insulation (better windows), noise levels are reduced. And because German industry is highly innovative, the construction of more efficient equipment also adds new jobs and opportunities.

With help of the EEE Roadmap, Germany is now exploring if all use cases can be fulfilled by existing Standards. In Germany, like Europe, over 70% of standards are identical to IEC International Standards.

Regulation and Standards

Victor Nazarenko, President of the IEC National Committee of Belarus underlined that electric energy efficiency is a strategic challenge for a country which imports more than 70% of its energy. The national programme on energy conservation, which was adopted in 1996 to improve energy use, has not only increased energy efficiency but it has also encouraged the development of more efficient products that are competitive beyond national borders. In an effort to increase independence from foreign energy resources, Belarus is also increasing local generation from biogas, agricultural waste, wind, solar and water power.

Energy saving indicators that have been put in place in Belarus are similar to EU directives. The aim is to encourage the use of International Standards in regulations. At the same time the country has put in place regulations regarding energy efficiency in buildings and participates in the drafting of technical regulations regarding requirements for energy-consuming devices, which are in preparation in the Eurasian Economic Union. In Belarus, the harmonization level with IEC, ISO International Standards and European standards is now above 85%.

The session concluded with feedback from two workshops that were held earlier in the week:

  • Energy efficiency in industry. New technologies, requirements and approaches – Minsk 14 October 2015
  • IEC Conformity Assessment Systems as the most effective tool to overcome the technical barriers in international trade – Minsk 15 October 2015

All presentations of the IEC Open Session in Minsk can be found in Council Document C/1937/INF. For those who don’t have access: please ask your IEC National Committee.

Energy efficiency Energy efficiency - the most important, untapped energy source
Systems approach Systems thinking achieves much higher overall efficiency
Global trade The ability to trade beyond borders directly depends on International Standards
Verification - three apples Efficiency claims need to be accurately verified
Energy efficiency  Energy rating systems rely on IEC International Standards