The start of the pumping revolution

Next year (2013) will see the start of a pumping revolution and it is every bit as important as that statement sounds. The European Union has recognised that in order to achieve anywhere near its requirements for carbon emission reductions, and to see significant reductions in the energy needed to power heating and hot water systems across the twenty seven member states, it has to lay down the law. Richard Harden, Sales Director of Wilo UK, tells us more.

The UK Government has set out very ambitious targets for energy and carbon reduction and it is looking for significant help from the heating, hot water and air conditioning sectors to achieve these. Having addressed the issues relating to the energy efficiency of boilers, and begun the process of encouraging the introduction of renewables on a wider scale, it has had to turn its attention to other components of the heating system to find sources of savings that will make a healthy contribution to the requirements it is faced with.

Clearly one of the key components of a heating or cooling system that currently uses too much energy is the pump.

Tighten requirements

The total electricity consumption of all glandless circulating pumps operated in the European Union for heating and air conditioning has to be halved by 2020. This is the objective of an EU ordinance under the European ErP (Eco-Design) Directive which will regulate the energy efficiency of this type of pump, from 1 January 2013 onwards, with a further tightening of requirements planned for 1 August 2015.

Overall, these changes are expected to provide an energy saving of 23 terawatt hours for the EU as a whole. This corresponds to the electricity generated by about six medium sized coal fired power stations, or a reduction in EU-wide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of about 11 million tonnes per year.

In order to achieve this goal set by the European Commission, the EU ordinance prohibits the sale of technically outmoded, inefficient pump models from 2013 onwards.  This will mean a ban on sales of about 90% of the glandless circulating pumps that were on the market in 2009. The reality is that the new efficiency requirements will be practically impossible to achieve without using high efficiency pumps with EC motor technology.

The important new yardstick for determining which pump models can continue to be used in future is referred to as the energy efficiency index (EEI). This is calculated using a process defined in the ordinance (EC) 641/2009. The average electrical power of a pump is calculated on the basis of a load profile in relation to a reference pump, that is, an average pump with the same hydraulic output.

New rules

From January 2013, the limit EEI value of glandless circulating pumps installed outside the heat generator (external pumps – not those incorporated in combi or system boilers at this stage) will be defined as 0.27. The energy efficiency classes specified at present will then become superfluous, because as a rule, pumps will be better than the minimum requirements of the current A rated pumps.

From August 2015, the EEI limit value will be reduced to 0.23. This will also apply to glandless circulation pumps, designed to operate in newly installed heat generators or solar thermal systems (integrated pumps). In the last implementation stage, the regulations starting from 2020 will also apply to the replacement of integrated pumps in existing heat generators. The regulations apply to all glandless circulating pumps in heating and air conditioning applications with the exception of drinking water circulation pumps.

Looking at the current pump population, there are still many heating and air conditioning systems which are equipped with pumps that have no speed control. Because of this, an unnecessarily high amount of electricity is consumed and in some cases up to ten times more than the newest pump generation requires. Models with extremely low electricity consumption are already available and these not only benefit the environment but also offer significant benefits to the building owner and the consumer because of lower electricity bills, whilst making no concessions in terms of comfort and performance. So it’s no surprise that pump manufacturers are recommending that specifiers and installers should use high efficiency pumps in their planning.

High efficiency

The Wilo-Stratos and Wilo-Stratos PICO series of single pumps, including the latest addition to the range the Wilo-Yonos PICO, offer potential electricity savings of up to 90% compared to standard pumps without speed control. They already comply with the limit values of the second stage of the glandless circulating pump ordinance due for 2015, and are already prepared for the future, without any restrictions.

The electronically controlled glandless circulation pumps with maintenance-free frequency converters automatically adjust their power to the changing operating status of the heating system. Especially in the partial load range, which makes up as much as 94% of the operating time of a heating pump, a considerable reduction in power consumption can be achieved compared to an uncontrolled pump. In addition, they have what are known as electronically commutated motors (ECMs). These make it possible to double the efficiency compared to electronically controlled pumps with conventional drives.

It still comes as a surprise to many that the energy consumed by small circulating pumps on heating systems can guzzle quite so much electricity. The reality is that the old, uncontrolled pumps that are still operating on millions of domestic and small commercial heating systems in this country are responsible for much higher energy bills, far higher CO2 emissions and far higher energy usage than is necessary today. But because in many cases they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’, the very simple act of replacing them with a new high efficiency pump that can reduce the costs of the energy the pump is using by up to 90%, tends to get overlooked.

Respond to need

The regulation on circulators will shift the market towards the intelligent high efficiency circulators that Wilo has been championing for several years, capable of adjusting their performance to meet the specific needs of the heating system.

There are currently about 140 million small circulators in Europe running constantly, whether they are needed or not – unless they are turned off. This is resulting in a waste of energy and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, generated for no good reason. It simply makes sense that all small circulators should respond to the needs of the heating or cooling system they are part of, using the minimum necessary energy to run them – and none at all when they aren’t required to operate.

The EU Commission estimates that inefficient circulators are responsible for about a 20% share of household energy bills and removing and replacing them with intelligent circulators could save as much as €2.2 billion by 2020 across the 27 European member states – equivalent to the total annual electricity consumption of Ireland!

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