Depletion of resources on earth is induced, inter alia, by the large amount of energy consumed during the manufacture, use and end-of-life treatment of the electrical products people use in Europe and beyond.
In line with the European Union’s 20-20-20 targets by 2020 (20% reduction in CO2 emissions, 20% of the energy coming from renewables, and 20% increase in energy efficiency), the European Commission is regulating a diversity of energy related products in terms of compulsory energy performance levels.
Currently, the focus is on the use phase of products. With over 30 Ecodesign Regulations covering as many product groups, certain energy efficiency thresholds are imposed on products destined for the EU market. In order to be sold on the EU market, these products must meet such requirements, therefore using less energy and yielding substantial energy savings in Europe for the coming years.
The European Commission relies on CEN and CENELEC to develop ad hoc measurement methods enabling manufacturers to conveniently measure the energy efficiency of their products against the compulsory values set forth in the relevant Ecodesign Regulations.
When an Ecodesign Regulation is adopted, the European Commission issues to CEN and CENELEC a corresponding ‘standardization request’, previously called a ‘mandate’ , requesting them to develop European Standards containing the dedicated energy performance measurement methods. The references of such European Standards are then published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), whereupon the standards in question receive the status of ‘Harmonized Standards’.
Today, CEN and CENELEC have published or are developing Ecodesign Harmonized Standards including household washing machines, household refrigerating appliances, circulators, electric motors, televisions, household dishwashers, lamps, space heaters and water heaters. New work is about to be triggered in the fields of computers and computer servers, local space heaters, solid fuel boilers, professional washing machines, driers and dishwashers, refrigerated commercial display cabinets, vacuum cleaners, ventilation units, welding equipment and ovens.
It is foreseen that the range of products increases over the next few years as the ambitions of the European Commission grow.
Moreover, a horizontal standardization request on material efficiency was issued to CEN and CENELEC in 2015. Within a dedicated CEN-CENELEC Joint Working Group, a few generic European Standards (applicable to any products covered by Directive 2009/125/EC) will be developed by March 2019. They will lay down basic principles for consideration when addressing aspects such as:
- extending product lifetime;
- ability to re-use components or recycle materials from products at end-of-life;
- the use of re-used components and/or recycled materials in products.
Presently, almost 30 CEN and CENELEC Technical Committees are actively involved in this overall scheme. By joining their expertise in ecodesign European Standards, CEN and CENELEC enable industry to manufacture products using less energy, thereby helping them and society to preserve resources.