For the last seven years, the European Commission (EC) has been consulting with the industrial refrigeration industry to establish EU-wide rules for minimum energy efficiency and labelling requirements for refrigeration and cooling products.
The EcoDesign Directive, which is part of UK law, sets requirements for minimum efficiency performance standards (MEPS) and forces manufacturer to improve the energy efficiency of their systmes to help reduce this.
Fundamentally, the new efficiency requirements will allow refrigeration end-users to easily compare chiller efficiency performance by looking at two well-defined and straightforward set of figures based on the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) requirement established by the directive:
a) Seasonal Energy Performance Ratio (SEPR) for industrial process chillers, and
b) Seasonal Space Cooling Energy Efficiency (SSCEE) for comfort cooling chillers.
This set of data required by the EcoDesign Directive is expected to supersede other energy efficiency indices in Europe, such as Eurovent’s European Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ESEER), and the Carbon Trust’s Energy Technology List (ETL), which have been criticised for relying on ideal laboratory conditions to test energy performance, leading to a lack of real world data.
It is expected that through the use of standardised, reliable and application-based energy performance ratios, users will be able to make better and more informed decisions, which take into account 75% of the total life cycle costs as opposed to focusing on capital costs alone. Energy consumed during refrigeration plant operation normally amounts to 60% of the plant’s total life cycle cost. Only a further 15% is attributed to initial capital investment and the remaining 20-25% is accounted for by maintenance and aftercare.
Chiller equipment produces greenhouse gas emissions via ‘Indirect emmisions’ which are linked to the chiller’s power consumption and therefore the energy efficiency’s measures taking by the EU’s Ecodesign Directive; and by ‘Direct emissions’ which are associated with refrigerant leaks and counteracted by the EU’s F-Gas Regulation.
The EcoDesign Directive has the potential to save end-users millions of pounds on energy bills and will have a great impact on cutting carbon emissions to achieve Europe’s 80% carbon reduction targets by 2050.
The Directive encompasses all electrical appliances which are going into the market place.
EcoDesign Directive and chiller application ranges
Under the EcoDesign Directive (2009/125/EC), the European Parliament set a framework for development of minimum requirements for the energy and environmental performance of energy-using products (EuP) and energy-related products (ErP) throughout their life-cycle.
In terms of cooling and heating products, the decision to act came after the EC identified the “high potential” for energy savings that refrigeration equipment had due to its high energy consumption and long operating times.
The EcoDesign and Energy Labelling Directives provide end users with clear information that allows them to choose more efficient products; to increase energy efficiency and, therefore, the level of protection of the environment; and finally, to ensure the free movement of energy-related products in the European Union.
The actual minimum-energy and performance requirements of the Directive for EuP and ErP were developed for each specific product group – depending on application – instead of the previous one-size-fits-all approach, which led to buyer’s confusion when chiller performance data was used to compare and measure efficiency of refrigeration systems for applications they were not originally built for or for ambient conditions not relevant to their particular location. For example, the regulations now define separate chiller utilisation rates in recognition of the fact that a process chiller is much more likely to operate at higher load in lower ambient conditions than a comfort chiller.
With the introduction of the EcoDesign Directive, the different product categories are separated into groups called LOTs. The key issues and legislation that affect industrial refrigeration end-users are collected in two product groups, referred to as ENTR Lot 1 (Refrigeration and Freezing equipment, in particular Medium Temperature (MT) and Low Temperature (LT) process chillers and condensing units) and ENER Lot 21 (High Temperature (HT) process chillers and comfort cooling (HVAC)).
The different product categories are separated into groups called LOTs
A process chiller is defined as a product consisting of at least one compressor and evaporator capable of cooling down and continuously maintaining the temperature of a liquid in order to provide cooling to a refrigerated appliance or system. It may or may not integrate the condenser, coolant circuit hardware and other ancillary equipment. The Directive does not, however, apply to custom made chillers assembled on site and made on a one off basis, or HT chillers exclusively using evaporative condensing.
A low temperature (LT) process chiller is capable of delivering its rated capacity with a process fluid outlet temperature of -25°C. This product falls under Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/1095 with minimum energy efficiency requirements which have been in place since July 2016.
A medium temperature (MT) process chiller is capable of delivering its rated capacity with a process fluid outlet temperature of -8°C. This product also falls under Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/1095 with minimum energy efficiency requirements which have also been in place since July 2016.
A high temperature (HT) process chiller is capable of delivering its rated capacity with a process fluid outlet temperature of +7°C. The system being cooled by the HT process chiller shall not have the purpose of cooling of a space for the thermal comfort of people. This product falls under the same regulation as comfort chillers, Commission Regulation (EU)2016/2281, which enforces minimum energy efficiency requirements from January 2018.
A comfort chiller is defined as a cooling product which may use a vapour compression or sorption cycle to cool a water based cooling system to a temperature not lower than +2°C. The condenser may reject heat to the ambient air, a water/brine circuit or to the ground. A comfort chiller would typically have the purpose of cooling of a space for the thermal comfort of people.
The directive is not only to establish the MEPS but to further limit the environmental impact of professional refrigeration products; it also states that manufacturers should provide instruction manuals on installation to optimise energy efficiency and information on disassembly, recycling or disposal.
How does the new EcoDesign Directive affect the current chiller market?
The EcoDesign Directive will have a dramatic impact on cutting our carbon emissions and will provide massive savings for Europe’s businesses as the less energy efficient products are driven out of the market and substituted for lower energy consuming chillers.
For manufacturers, the EU targets will no doubt present great challenges as all non-compliant chillers will not be allowed to be sold on the European market, but also opportunities, as this will mean going back to the drawing board and redesigning new, more technologically advanced energy efficient chillers.
According to data set published by standards organisation EUROVENT in May 2015, 80% of comfort chillers above 400kW will not make the first cut of the EcoDesign Directive as the proposed minimum energy performance standards are not met, with a further 8% of chillers expected to be withdrawn from the market by 2021 when the proposed minimum energy performance standards for comfort chillers are further tightened. This effectively means that the majority of refrigeration chillers for comfort cooling applications currently being manufactured must be dropped from the market by 2018.
Eurovent database 05.2015: ESEER translated into SEER NET
Tier – 1 (2018): MEPS are not achieved by ~80%
Tier – 2 (2021): MEPS are not achieved by ~88%
The EcoDesign Directive has set as its ultimate aim to reduce the energy consumption (and therefore reduce CO2 emissions) and other negative environmental impact, particularly at the design stage.
EcoDesign Directive Minimum Energy Performance Standards
The Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) are the minimum energy requirements a chiller must have in order to comply with legislation. Use the figures provided on the tables below to compare different chiller solutions and boost your business’ bottom line – the higher the performance figures, the more energy efficient the chiller and the higher the energy and carbon savings.
From now on, the efficiency of refrigeration products will be measured by the Seasonal Energy Performance Ratio (SEPR) for LT, MT and HT processchillers and the Seasonal Space Cooling Energy Efficiency (SSCEE) for comfort chillers, resulting from multiplying the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) by 0.4 with further corrections to account for energy consumption related to temperature control and electricity consumption of ground water pumps where applicable. The final value is expressed as a percentage.
Calculation of the efficiency measures are completed by manufacturers and are in accordance with the methodologies set out in the regulations which also references other recognised methods of calculation e.g. EN14825.
The following tables show the minimum energy efficiency threshold requirements. You can refer to these two MEPS figures, by which refrigeration products sold in the EU are to be declared, to compare the energy efficiency of different solutions.