Policy & Regulation

Technical Standards

The “energy efficiency” or “efficiency” of a motor is the percentage of input electrical energy that is converted into usable mechanical energy. Motor efficiency classes and testing methods have been defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which prepares and publishes technical standards for electrical equipment.

IEC standard 60034-30-1 categorises electric motors based on their energy efficiency, from IE1 (lowest) to IE5 (highest). Regional and national standards are aligned with IEC and form the basis for policies and regulations.

MOTOR MEPS should be developed methodically and transparently with the support and participation of representatives from the supply chain, end users, power utilities, public institutions, civil society and the public.

Policies and Regulations

The experience of fifty-two countries shows that mandatory minimum energy performance standard (MEPS) are the most effective instrument for transforming the market for new motors to higher efficiencies. These prevent inefficient motors (those that do not meet MEPS) from entering the marketplace, thus, raising the average efficiency over time.


Most countries have adopted MEPS for motors in the range 0.75 kW-375 kW at IE3. Some countries cover an extended range of 0.12 kW-1000 kW at IE3. The EU 27 and UK have adopted the more ambitious IE4 as MEPS for the 75 kW-200 kW range. Other countries have adopted less stringent MEPS at IE2 or IE1 depending on the state of preparedness of their respective domestic motor manufacturing industries.

Motor MEPS Levels Around the World

ie4/3 ie3 ie2 ie1

Efficiency Classes (IE-Code): IEC 60034-30-1:2014, line operated AC motors. © 2022, iea-4e.org/emsa

Well-implemented MEPS regulations coupled with robust monitoring, verification and enforcement benefits all stakeholders:

  1. Users benefit from reduced lifecycle costs without straining governmental finances (unlike incentives and subsidies).
  2. The domestic motor manufacturing industry upgrades its technology.
  3. There is a high degree of certainty of sustainable energy savings from an environmental perspective.

It is important to consult key stakeholders and address their interests and concerns so that they understand and support the policy when it becomes effective. Adequate time must be provided to domestic motor manufacturers and importers to upgrade their capabilities, together with technical assistance and financing, as necessary.

The benefits of well-implemented MEPS vary by stakeholder, but generally include:

  • Efficiency levels are technically achievable and cost-effective for consumers
  • Mandatory nature (coupled with robust monitoring, verification and enforcement) provides a high degree of certainty that energy savings are achievable and sustainable
  • Minimal impact on governmental finances (unlike equipment incentives and subsidies that are intended to lower the burden of procurement costs on their constituents)
  • Clear signals are given to manufacturers and retailers of market demand for efficient products
  • Manufacturers and sellers of quality products have an opportunity to gain market share
  • Product innovation is stimulated
  • Average performance of products available for sale is improved
  • Product quality is defined for both sellers and buyers
  • Manufacturers gain access to additional markets where equivalent MEPS are in place
  • MEPS can be easily adjusted iteratively as the market and motors technology evolve
  • MEPS maximises consumer benefits at minimum per unit transaction costs

MEPS development is usually a multi-year, iterative process. The selected MEPS and the pace of implementation must be fair to both manufacturers and users, not cause economic disruptions or distortions, and balance national objectives of energy and CO2 savings with net economic benefits.

Once established, MEPS programmes should be MONITORED, EVALUATED, UPDATED, AND REVISED EVERY FEW YEARS to ensure that they remain appropriate and relevant.

Supporting Policies

While mandatory MEPS set a regulatory foundation to the efficiency class of new motors entering the market, supporting policies are needed:

  • To create awareness, gain conviction and build capacity through communication and education campaigns, provide tools and resources, create best practice case studies and gain the active support of key stakeholders.
  • To encourage the voluntary purchase of new motors of higher efficiency classes than MEPS if these are economically justifiable on a lifecycle costing basis.
  • To accelerate the voluntary replacement of inefficient old motors in the installed base, (some of which are even below IE1) with new efficient motors.
  • To upgrade motor repair practices to ensure that a repaired motor is at least as efficient as the original one, if not better.

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