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Emission intensity of public conventional thermal power electricity and heat production (ENER 008) - Assessment published Aug 2011

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 27 Jul 2011 Published 08 Aug 2011 Last modified 12 Nov 2013, 01:16 PM
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Contents
 

Indicator definition

Historical emissions of CO2, NOx and SO2 from the reporting format category 1A1a - Public electricity and heat production. Output from public thermal power stations covers gross electricity generation and any heat also produced by public thermal power stations. Public thermal power stations generate electricity and/or heat for sale to third parties as their primary activity. They may be privately or publicly owned. The gross electricity generation is measured at the outlet of the main transformers, i.e. the consumption of electricity in the plant auxiliaries and in transformers is included. Emissions intensity is calculated by dividing the emissions of each pollutant from public electricity and heat production (sector 1A1a) by the output from public thermal power stations.

 

Units

CO2 intensity: emissions per toe


Key policy question: Is the use and production of energy having a decreasing impact on the environment?

Key messages

The emissions and emissions intensity of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from public conventional thermal power plants has decreased substantially since 1990, particularly in the case of SO2 and NOx. This is primarily due to a decline in the use of coal, and replacement of old, inefficient coal plant as well as the use of abatement techniques. However, since 2000 a rise in the coal-fired electricity production has slowed the decline in emissions intensity. Rising overall electricity consumption has also acted to partly offset the environmental benefits from improvements in emissions intensity.

CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions and electricity and heat production, EEA-32

Note: CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions and electricity and heat production in the EEA-32, during the period 1990-2008

Data source:

EUROSTAT 2010. Energy data - Output of heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat,  http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/

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Emissions intensity of public conventional thermal power production, EEA-32

Note: Emissions intensity of public conventional thermal power production, EEA-32

Data source:

EEA. National emissions reported to the UNFCCC and to the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism. Available at: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/PivotApp/pivot.aspx?pivotid=475

     
EEA. EEA aggregated and gap filled air pollutant data. Available at:
http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/PivotApp/pivot.aspx?pivotid=468

EUROSTAT. Energy data - Output of heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat, http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/.

 

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Emissions intensity of nitrogen oxides from public conventional thermal power production

Note: Emissions intensity is calculated as the amount of pollutant produced (in tonnes) from public electricity and heat production divided by the output of electricity and heat (in toe) from these plants.

Data source:

EEA. EEA aggregated and gap filled air pollutant data. Available at: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/PivotApp/pivot.aspx?pivotid=468


EUROSTAT. Energy data - Output of heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/.


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Emissions intensity of carbon dioxide from public conventional thermal power production

Note: Emissions intensity of carbon dioxide from public conventional thermal power production

Data source:

EEA. National emissions reported to the UNFCCC and to the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism. Available at: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/PivotApp/pivot.aspx?pivotid=475
EUROSTAT. Energy data - Output of heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/.


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Emissions intensity of sulphur dioxide from public conventional thermal power production

Note: Emissions intensity of sulphur dioxide from public conventional thermal power production

Data source:

EEA. EEA aggregated and gap filled air pollutant data. Available at: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/PivotApp/pivot.aspx?pivotid=468


EUROSTAT. Energy data - Output of heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat, http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/.

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Across the EEA-32, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have decreased during the period 1990-2008, particularly in the case of SO2 and NOx, despite a 33.8 % rise in electricity and heat produced by public conventional thermal power plants (see Figure 1). This has been due to EEA-32 emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) per unit of electricity and heat produced by public conventional thermal power plants (i.e. the emissions intensity) decreasing substantially during the period 1990-2008 (see Figure 1). The majority of this reduction was achieved during the 1990s and between 2007 and 2008 due to the recent recession but the rate of improvement slows down from 2000 till 2007. The reductions in SO2 and NOx emissions intensity have been particularly significant, influenced by emission abatement techniques such as flue gas desulphurisation and low-NOx burners, and the greater use of low-sulphur fuels. Emission reductions have also been helped by some switch in electricity production from coal and oil to natural gas, prompted by the liberalisation of energy markets and improvements in the efficiency of electricity production.

Improvements in CO2 intensity from electricity and heat production are not just due to the closure of inefficient plants and lower use of coal. The use of biomass and other renewable sources (wind and hydroelectric power) has also increased significantly in 2008[1]. Biomass input to public electricity and heat plants have increased from about 180 thousand TJ in 1990 to 1.1 million in 2008[2]. The share of biomass in all fuels used in CRF 1A1a went up from 1.1% to 6.5% between 1990 and 2008.

The intensity of CO2 emissions from public conventional thermal power plants in the EEA-32 decreased by about 28% from 1990 to 2008 due to improvements in the majority of Member States (see Figures 1 and 3). This reduction has generally occurred as a result of the closure of old and inefficient coal-fired plants and their replacement with either newer, more efficient coal-fired plants or new gas-fired plants. Romania, Iceland, and Luxembourg achieved greater than 60 % reductions in the intensity of CO2 emissions. Bulgaria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have the highest carbon intensity.

During the period 1990-2008, the emissions intensity of NOx from public conventional thermal plants in the EEA-32 decreased by 56% (see Figures 2 and 4). This was due to the increased use of end-of-pipe abatement techniques such selective catalytic reduction, low-NOx burners and the use of less polluting fuels in public conventional thermal power production in many Member States. NOx intensities fell in the majority of Member States (except Latvia, Estonia, Greece and Bulgaria), with the largest decreases of over 90 % occurring in Italy and the Slovakia. The countries with the highest NOx intensity are Bulgaria, which uses mainly coal within public conventional thermal power, and Greece, which derives all of its public conventional thermal power from oil.

The emissions intensity of SO2 from public conventional thermal power plants decreased by 78 % from 1990 to 2008, a significantly larger reduction than occurred for either CO2 or NOx emissions intensities from public conventional thermal power plants (see Figures 1 and 5). All member states show a reduction in SO2 emissions with 13 member states showing reductions of over 90% in emissions intensity. In particular Hungary and Latvia decreased their emissions intensity the most. Hungary significantly increased its use of natural gas and decreased its use of oil. In Denmark the SO2 emissions reductions occurred through a fifteen-fold increase in the use of natural gas.

[1] For more information see ENER02

Data sources

Policy context and targets

Context description

Although there are no specific EU targets for reducing the emissions intensity of public thermal power production, such reductions will play an important role in helping the EU to meet its commitments under the Kyoto protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the National Emissions Ceiling Directive. The latter requires the introduction of national emission ceilings (upper limits) for emissions of SO2 and NOx (as well as NH3 and NMVOCs) in each Member State, as well as setting interim environmental objectives for reducing the exposure of ecosystems and human populations to damaging levels of the acid pollutants. Targets for the new Member States are temporary and are without prejudice to the on-going review of the NEC Directive which should result in a proposal for a revised Directive in 2013. Targets for Bulgaria and Romania are provisional and not binding. Hence, the existing EU25 NECD Target has been used in the following analysis.

In terms of the energy sector, the most relevant NEC Directive targets for the EU-25 (excluding Bulgaria and Romania) are for SO2 andNOx emissions reductions of 74% and 53% respectively by 2010 from 1990 levels. Bulgaria and Romania have provisional targets for SO2 and NOx emissions reductions.

A number of EU policies have an impact on the emissions intensity of public thermal power plants, including the Large Combustion Plant (LCP) Directive (2001/80/EC) which aims to control emissions of SO2, NOx and particulate matter from large (>50MW) combustion plants and hence favours the use of higher efficiency CCGT as opposed to coal plants; and plants covered under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (96/61/EC) which are required to meet a set of emissions abatement and energy efficiency provisions through the use of best available technology not entailing excessive cost (BATNEEC). New installations, and existing installations which are subject to "substantial changes", have been required to meet the requirements of the IPPC Directive since 30 October 1999. Other existing installations must be brought into compliance by 30 October 2007. The LCP Directive requires significant emission reductions from "existing plants" (licensed before 1 July 1987) to be achieved by 1 January 2008.

The Directive establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community (2003/87/EC) is primarily intended to help contribute to the European Union fulfilling its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and will affect the CO2 intensity. Under the Directive, each Member State drew up National Allocation Plans for 2005-2007 and again for 2008-2012 that set caps on CO2 emissions from all thermal electricity generating plants greater than 20 MW. A shift to less carbon intensive fuels for electricity generation, such as gas, and improvements in efficiency are important options to help generators meet their requirements under the Directive, and these will also have the effect of helping to reduce the emissions intensity of SO2 and NOx.

 

 

Targets

No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

  • Council Directive 96/61/EC (IPPC)
    Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC). Official Journal L 257.
  • Directive 2001/80/EC, large combustion plants
    Directive 2001/80/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants
  • DIRECTIVE 2003/87/EC
    The Directive establish a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amends Council Directive 96/61/EC

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

CO2 emissions data are annual official data submission to UNFCCC and EU Monitoring mechanism. Combination of emission estimates based on volume of activities and emission factors. Recommended methodologies for emission data collection are compiled in the IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC, 2006), supplemented by the Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC, 2000) and UNFCCC Guidelines (UNFCCC, 2000). SO2 and NOx emissions data are annual country data submissions to UNECE/CLRTAP/EMEP. Combination of emission measurements and emission estimates based on volume of activities and emission factors. Recommended methodologies for emission data collection are compiled in the Joint EMEP/CORINAIR Atmospheric Emission Inventory Guidebook 3rd edition EEA Copenhagen EEA (2009).

Emission intensities are calculated as the ratio of CO2, NOx and SO2 emissions of public conventional thermal power production divided by the electricity and heat output from public conventional thermal power production. Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year / base year) ^ (1 / number of years) –1]*100.

 

Methodology for gap filling

ETC-ACC gap-filling methodology. Where countries have not reported data for one, or several years, data for emissions from public conventional thermal power production has been calculated as a proportion of the emissions from all energy industries (which includes emissions from refineries etc) by applying a scaling factor. This scaling factor has been calculated as the ratio of emissions from public conventional thermal power production to emissions from all energy industries for a year in which both data sets exist (usually 2005). It is recognised that the use of gap-filling can potentially lead to inaccurate trends, but it is considered unavoidable if a comprehensive and comparable set of emissions data for European countries is required for policy analysis purposes.

 

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The emissions intensity of power production is calculated as the ratio of emissions to total electricity and heat output. For electricity data (unlike that for overall energy consumption) 1990 refers to the West part of Germany only. The IPCC (IPCC, 2000) suggests that the uncertainty in the total GWP-weighted emission estimates, for most European countries, is likely to be less than ± 20 %. The IPCC believes that the uncertainty in CO2 emission estimates from fuel use in Europe is likely to be less than ± 5 %. Total GHG emission trends are likely to be more accurate than the absolute emission estimates for individual years. The IPCC suggests that the uncertainty in total GHG emission trends is ± 4 % to 5 %. Uncertainty estimates for the EU-15 were calculated by the EEA (2006). The results suggest that uncertainties at EU-15 level are between ± 4 % and 11 % for total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions. For energy related greenhouse gas emissions the results suggest uncertainties between ± 2 % (stationary combustion) and ± 11 % (fugitive emissions). For public electricity and heat production specifically, which is the focus of the indicator, the CO2 uncertainty is estimated to be ± 0.2 %. For the new Member States and some other EEA countries, uncertainties are assumed to be higher than for the EU-15 Member States because of data gaps.

The uncertainties of sulphur dioxide emission estimates in Europe are relatively low, as the sulphur emitted comes from the fuel burnt and therefore can be accurately estimated. However, because of the need for interpolation to account for missing data the complete dataset used here will have higher uncertainty.

EMEP has compared modelled (which include emission data as one of the model parameters) and measured concentrations throughout Europe (EMEP 2005). From these studies the uncertainties associated with the modelled annual averages for a specific point in time have been estimated in the order of ± 30 %. This is consistent with an inventory uncertainty of ±10 % (with additional uncertainties arising from the other model parameters, modelling methodologies, and the air quality measurement data etc). In contrast, NOx emission estimates in Europe are thought to have higher uncertainty, as the NOx emitted comes both from the fuel burnt and the combustion air and so cannot be estimated accurately from fuel nitrogen alone. EMEP has compared, modelled and measured concentrations throughout Europe (EMEP 2005). From these studies differences for individual monitoring stations of more than a factor of two have been found. This is consistent with an inventory of national annual emissions having an uncertainty of ±30% or greater (there are also uncertainties in the air quality measurements and especially the modelling). For all emissions the trend is likely to be much more accurate than individual absolute annual values - the annual values are not independent of each other. However not all countries apply changes to methodologies back to 1990.

 

 

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Generic metadata

Topics:

Energy Energy (Primary topic)

Air pollution Air pollution

Tags:
co2 | carbon dioxide | energy | so2 | nox | emissions | nitrogen dioxide | sulphur dioxide
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
Indicator codes
  • ENER 008
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2008
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anca-Diana Barbu

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 2.8.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100