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EU adopts four new eco-design regulations

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The European Commission formally adopted four new eco-design regulations to improve the energy efficiency of industrial electric motors, water circulators, televisions, and refrigerators and freezers on Wednesday.

It estimates the rules will save 190 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year by 2020, roughly equivalent to the power consumption of Austria and Sweden. The regulations have been approved by member states and MEPs.

The regulation on industrial electric motors will drive the biggest savings of the batch, an estimated 135 TWh per year by 2020. Motors will have to meet minimum efficiency standards from 2011 (EE 12/03/09). The law also promotes the use of "variable speed drives", which adjust motor output to actual needs.

Low- and standard-efficiency water circulators will be phased out by 2013 and only high-efficiency "intelligent" circulators will be sold from 2015 (EE 27/03/09). The electricity savings are expected to be about 25 TWh per year by 2020.

From July 2010 all televisions for sale will have to be more efficient than the current sector average, and refrigerator and freezer models with a current efficiency rating of class B and below will be removed from the market. Efficiency standards for both will be tightened in later years (EE 01/04/09).

This brings to nine the number of eco-design regulations now in place in the EU. According to the commission, the laws will help save 315 TWh of electricity per year by 2020, more than the annual consumption of Italy.

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