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New US motor efficiency standards could save $23.1bn

02 December, 2013

The US government has announced plans to introduce new efficiency standards for electric motors that it estimates could save roughly 1 trillion kWh of electricity over 30 years – enough to power almost every US home for a year. Over a 30-year period, the savings for US electricity users would amount to around $23.1bn.

The new standards, which are due to come into force at the end of 2015, will establish minimum efficiency ratings for almost every motor rated from 1–500hp (0.75–373kW). The proposals are said to have the backing of US motor manufacturers. The minimum full-load efficiency levels laid down in the standards range from 77% for two-pole 1hp motors, up to 95% for eight-pole 500hp models.

In addition to annualised energy savings equivalent to 1% of the total primary energy consumption by US industry in 2011, the US government calculates that the proposed standards will cut cumulative carbon emissions over a 30-period by nearly 400 million tonnes – a similar effect to removing more than 80 million cars from American roads for a year. Sulphur dioxide emissions would drop by 674,000 tonnes, nitrogen oxides by 499,000 tonnes and mercury by 0.8 tonnes.

Using a 7% discount rate, the government estimates that its proposed standards will result in a $462m annual increase in equipment costs, while cutting operating costs by $1,114m per year. Taking into account the savings from the reduced emissions, the net benefit would amount $957m a year.

If a 3% discount rate is used, the increase in equipment costs would be $577m, the reduction in operating costs would be $1,730m per year, and the net benefit would be £1,354m per year.

The government has also been looking at the potential impact of the proposed standards on America’s electric motor manufacturers. It estimates that the manufacturers’ INPV (industry net present value) was $3,371m in 2012 (using a discount rate of 9.1%) and predicts that that the proposed standards could result in the manufacturers losing up to 8.4% of this – equivalent to around $238.5m. But, based on interviews with the manufacturers, the government does not expect and plant closures or significant losses of employment as a result of implementing the proposed standards.

The US Department of Energy has published a 352–page document outlining its motor efficiency proposals.

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