On 21 May 2014, minimum levels of energy efficiency were set for new small, medium, and large power transformers that can be placed on the EU market. These are set out in a further EU Regulation under the Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC for energy-related products. Clearly this will be important for manufacturers, importers and retailers.

Background

In 2005 the Ecodesign Directive (the “EuP Directive”) established a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy using products. Nine implementing measures (via EU Regulations) were implemented under this Directive relating to standby and off mode power consumption, simple set top boxes, battery chargers or external power supplies, general lighting, tertiary lighting, electric motors (1-150KW), televisions, circulators and refrigerators. Implementation of timelines for minimum standards for energy efficiency for these product groups apply through to 2016.

On 20th November 2009 the EuP Directive was repealed and replaced by a broader Directive establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy related products. This directive is commonly referred to as the “ERP Directive”. The most recent EU Regulations under the ERP Directive have set ecodesign requirements for circulators, electric motors, household refrigerating appliances, external power supplies, non-directional household lamps, complex set top boxes and water pumps, amongst others.

What are implementing measures?

The ERP is a framework Directive. It does not directly introduce obligations on business. Instead it provides a legal framework for establishing minimum ecodesign requirements for energy-related products by defining conditions and criteria for the setting of such requirements. These requirements are then implemented by subsequent EU Regulations. These EU Regulations are binding on business and because they are EU Regulations rather than Directives, they are binding directly on business without the need for implementing domestic legislation (although domestic legislation is often also brought in to help determine how the EU Regulations apply).

The implementing EU regulations are targeted at specific product groups (transformers in this case) or a specific function of energy related goods.

Transformers

EU Regulation No 548/2014 sets minimum ecodesign standards for transformers with a minimum power rating of 1 kVA used in 50Hz electricity transmission and distribution networks or for industrial applications. It will be unlawful to place on the market or put into service in the EU any power transformers which fail to comply.

The Regulation is applicable only to transformers placed on the Community market or put into service after the entry into force of the Regulation. The Regulation is due to enter into force in June 2014.

The requirements will be imposed in two tiers, with the first tier beginning on 1 July 2015, and the second (stricter) tier commencing on 1 July 2021.

The three main categories of transformers to which the requirements will apply have been defined as:

Small power transformer: a power transformer with a highest voltage for equipment not exceeding 1.1 kV;

Medium power transformer: a power transformer with a highest voltage for equipment higher than 1.1 kV, but not exceeding 36 kV and a rated power equal to or higher than 5 kVA but lower than 40 MVA; and

Large power transformer: a power transformer with a highest voltage for equipment exceeding 36 kV and a rated power equal to or higher than 5 kVA, or a rated power equal to or higher than 40 MVA regardless of the highest voltage for equipment.

Exemptions

There are a number of transformers to which the Regulation will not apply, including but not limited to: transformers with low-voltage windings; transformers specifically designed to be directly connected to a furnace; transformers specifically designed for offshore applications and transformers specially designed for emergency installations. Concessions are also made for “large power transformers where it is demonstrated that for a particular application, technically feasible alternatives are not available to meet the minimum efficiency requirements”, and for transformers that are made to be mounted on utility poles (although all such transformers will have to have a clearly visible sign on them to this effect).

Power transformers – timetable

From 1 July 2015 tier 1 ecodesign requirements set out in Article I will apply and from this date the booklet of instructions provided by manufacturers and websites of manufacturers will have to contain product information and technical documentation requirements. Product information requirements will have to contain information on rated power, load loss, no load loss, electric power required by the cooling system for no load operation and value of peak efficiency, among others. Technical documentation will have to include the manufacturer’s name and address, the model identifier, and all the details provided under the product information requirements. More stringent tier 2 requirements will apply from 1 July 2021.

Annex II of the new Regulation sets out the measurement and calculation methods to be used to ensure compliance with the ecodesign requirements, whilst Annex III sets out the verification procedure that Member State authorities will have to use when performing market surveillance checks.

Sanctions

Following the implementation dates it will be unlawful for a person (be it a manufacturer, importer or retailer) to place, or put into service, on the Community market products that are not compliant with the particular ecodesign requirements. 

In the UK the competent authority for compliance is the National Measurement Office. Criminal sanctions may apply along with the new UK civil sanctions (including variable monetary penalties) which were introduced by virtue of Eco-design for Energy Related Products Regulations 2010 and the Energy Information Regulations 2011.

To view the Regulation click here.