EU product rules 'boost commercial innovation'

   The EU's ecodesign and energy labelling rules have accelerated the commercialisation and market deployment of more energy efficient products but have had a weaker impact on R&D, according to a study for the European Commission.

   This has been the case for product groups including electric motors and pumps, consultants Ecofys said in the study published on Thursday.

   In the space heating sector, ecodesign rules are likely to spur companies to improve their low-end products to acceptable efficiency levels in the short term “by incremental innovation to products that are already widely available”, they note.

   Industry groups say the incentive to innovate is limited by the system of energy labelling classes because the highest ones, such as A+++, are easily reached. New labels with 'A' at the top of the scale would resolve this problem, the consultants said.

   The consultants interviewed industry players and analysed approved requests for R&D funding from the European Investment Bank, as well as patent data. They concluded that, in general, companies already had the technologies to meet ecodesign requirements. The rules gave them an incentive to bring them to the market.

   The rules' impact on innovation has been strongest for products with the most stringent regulations. Market surveillance is also important, as firms indicated there is less motivation to innovate when non-compliant products continue to be sold. Many manufacturers would support more surveillance.

   For the “traditional and slow-moving” air conditioning market, the consultants concluded that the ecodesign rules had increased the speed of product development but probably have not had an impact on the overall efficiency of the sector.

   The Commission is currently conducting a review of energy labelling and ecodesign rules which is due to be finalised by the end of the year.

Excerpted from ENDS Europe DAILY