The EU aims to increase energy efficiency by 20% by 2020. Ecodesign and energy labelling are important means to achieve this goal, and combined, they are expected to contribute with half of the total reduction in energy use. Since 2013, the Nordic countries have collaborated within the Nordsyn-project to ensure transparent implementation of the European Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives and coherent market surveillance of energy-related products.
By Páll Tómas Finnsson
Ecodesign plays an increasingly important role in Europe
The European Ecodesign Directive compels producers of energy-related products to take account of energy consumption and lifecycle impact on the environment in the design of their products. It was initially applied in order to reduce the consumption of energy and other resources by household appliances, while the current Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives address a wider range of energy-related products.
“Ecodesign and energy labelling have proven to be the most powerful tools to increase energy efficiency in Europe,” says Danish Nordsyn representative Bjarke Hansen of the Danish Energy Agency. “Thanks to these two regulations, European energy consumption has been reduced by more than 5% compared to a situation without the regulations, and they will continue to play an important role.”
At the time of Nordsyn’s launch, the European Commission was aiming for a 5% reduction by way of ecodesign and energy labelling, but as this goal has already been exceeded, the ambitions have been doubled.
“The Commission is now relying on ecodesign and energy labelling to reduce energy consumption in Europe by 10% by 2020,” says Lovisa Blomqvist, Nordsyn’s project manager. “Ecodesign will account for 85% of these savings and the remaining 15% will come from energy labelling. Together, they will contribute half of the European ambition of using 20% less energy by 2020.”
According to Blomqvist, the success of ecodesign lies in the detail.
“The environmental and energy efficiency requirements for each product are based on extensive studies into market data and technological status of the product group,” she says. “This allows us to introduce specific requirements for everything from light bulbs and smaller electrical appliances to large transformers and professional refrigeration systems.”
Consistency in market surveillance throughout the region
The purpose of Nordsyn is to strengthen Nordic cooperation on market surveillance of the energy-related products subject to the two Directives. Since 2013, all the Nordic market surveillance authorities have participated actively in the project, aiming to ensure consistent implementation of the legislation.
“Our cooperation is a means to implement the rules in a transparent manner in all the Nordic countries and thus ensure that suppliers won’t experience differences in interpretation between markets,” says Hansen.
It is the responsibility of the market surveillance authorities in each country to monitor if producers of energy-related products live up to the ecodesign and energy labelling requirements. Their role is to make sure that producers have access to all the information necessary to comply with the regulation, gather technical documentation and test if the products meet the ecodesign requirements.
“Product testing and document control are quite costly,” says Blomqvist. “As we’re often dealing with the same products, it makes sense to share test results and other information in the Nordic countries and in Europe.”
Detailed guidelines concerning strategic Nordic products
Blomqvist and Hansen agree that Nordsyn has provided a valuable opportunity to develop the Nordic countries’ market surveillance methods. The countries have pooled their resources to produce guidelines, fact sheets and information materials, with particular focus on products of Nordic strategic interest. Also, Nordsyn has produced guidelines for technical documentation and conducted several analytical projects, including a study on the efficiency of market surveillance.
Recently, heating products have been prominent in the group’s activities, as new EU rules on ecodesign and energy labelling for boilers, heat pumps and water heaters came into effect on September 26, 2015.
“Due to our cold climate, this is a product group of great interest to the Nordic countries,” says Hansen. “We also have a long tradition for research into ventilation in buildings, and therefore, the region boasts many of the leading European and global ventilation companies. These are just a couple of the key product groups we’ve addressed in Nordsyn.”
Recommendations for the European Commission
Throughout the project period, the Nordsyn-group has been part of the European dialogue on market surveillance and interpretation of the ecodesign and energy labelling legislation, including the biannual ADCO-meetings. The group has put forward recommendations to the European Commission regarding improved data sharing and market surveillance of more complicated energy-related products.
“Ecodesign is now used also for products that are more difficult to monitor, i.e. motors, boilers, transformers and professional refrigeration systems,” says Blomqvist. “Many of these products are practically impossible or very expensive to take to a laboratory and must therefore be tested at the producer’s site or even after installation at the end-user’s site. This calls for new market surveillance methods and new types of sanctions.”
“We also need to put better structures in place for European cooperation and develop more efficient databases and platforms to share materials,” Blomqvist continues. “The Nordsyn Effect project has shown a prevented energy loss worth €28 million in the Nordic countries for a market surveillance cost of €2.1 million. Nordsyn has shown that it’s cost efficient to share test results, document controls and other material, and we believe that increased cooperation would greatly benefit the market surveillance in Europe.”
“The environmental and energy efficiency requirements for each product are based on extensive studies into market data and technological status of the product group”
Lovisa Blomqvist, Nordsyn’s project manager
Decoupling of environmental pressures, gross energy consumption, ressource use and generation of non-mineral waste from economic growth
“We also need to put better structures in place for European cooperation and develop more efficient databases and platforms to share materials”
Lovisa Blomqvist, Nordsyn’s project manager