Emissions of air pollutants from large combustion plants

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: INDP 002
Created 21 Feb 2017 Published 19 Apr 2017 Last modified 19 Apr 2017
This indicator tracks trends since 2004 in emissions of SO 2 , NO x  and dust, as well as the environmental performance of LCPs. LCPs comprise combustion plants with a total rated thermal input equal to or greater than 50 MW. The geographical coverage comprises the EU-28 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The temporal coverage is 2004-2014 (most recent year with officially reported LCP emissions and fuel use; EEA LCP database v1.0 (see Data sources ))

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

Anthropogenic emissions of SO2, NOx and dust all contribute to air quality problems in Europe. Excess deposition of sulphur and nitrogen compounds can lead to disturbances in the functioning and structure of ecosystems by, for example, causing the acidification of soils and waters as well as, in the case of nitrogen, the eutrophication of nutrient-poor ecosystems such as grasslands.

LCPs use large amounts of fuels, mostly fossil fuels, to produce useful forms of energy. These plants inevitably generate a number of residues, waste products and emissions to all environmental media (air, water and soil). Emissions from LCPs constitute a significant proportion of total anthropogenic emissions and are considered one of the main environmental pressures from LCPs.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator tracks trends since 2004 in emissions of SO2, NOx and dust, as well as the environmental performance of LCPs. LCPs comprise combustion plants with a total rated thermal input equal to or greater than 50 MW.

The geographical coverage comprises the EU-28 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).

The temporal coverage is 2004-2014 (most recent year with officially reported LCP emissions and fuel use; EEA LCP database v1.0 (see Data sources))

Units

SO2, NOx and dust emissions — kilotonnes (kt)/year

Total fuel consumption — terajoules (TJ)/year

Implied emission factor — tonnes (t)/terajoules (TJ)

Rated thermal input — megawatt thermal (MWth)

Policy context and targets

Context description

The EU has had a policy on emissions from combustion plants since the 1980s. Between 2004 and 2013, two pieces of EU law were in place: the LCP Directive (Directive 2001/80/EC) and the IPPC Directive (Directive 2008/1/EC). EU law imposed specific emission limit values on emissions of NOx, SO2 and dust from plants with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 50 MW. Since 1 January 2016, this legislation has been replaced by the IED (Directive 2010/75/EU).

The aim of EU policy on LCPs is to reduce emissions to air, water and land, including measures related to waste, in order to achieve a high level of protection of the environment as a whole. The focus for LCPs is to reduce the emissions of acidifying pollutants, particles and ozone precursors.

The Large Combustion Plant Directive

The EU (then the European Economic Community (EEC)) started to regulate combustion plants by means of Directive 84/360/EEC. This directive established a framework for permitting installations and the criteria to do so, but did not establish specific limitations that were applicable across Member States. During the 1980s, the European Communities became party to the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution which requires more harmonised action and the establishment of clearer operational criteria and emission limit values.

These precedent directives were replaced by Directive 2001/80/EC, known as the LCP Directive, which imposed limits on the emissions of NOx, SO2 and dust from plants with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 50 MW. The aim of the LCP Directive was to reduce the emissions of acidifying pollutants, particles and ozone precursors.

The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive and the 2006 Reference Document on Best Available Techniques for Large Combustion Plants

Combustion plants were also regulated by the so-called IPPC Directive, a piece of EU law which tackled LCPs in an integrated way and not only with regard to their emissions to air. Under the IPPC Directive, a BREF on LCPs was agreed in order to establish a reference for the permits of LCPs.

The Industrial Emissions Directive

As of 2016, all combustion plants have been regulated by Directive 2010/75/EU, the IED, which simultaneously establishes minimum requirements (Chapter III) and an integrated permitting system (Chapter I). A new BREF document for LCPs under the IED is being negotiated at the moment, and an implementing act will set the aspects that will entail a legally binding character.

Under the IED, permit conditions, including emission limit values, must be based on BATs. The term ‘best available techniques’ refers to the most effective, economically and technically viable methods of operation which reduce emissions and the impact on the environment.

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

An additional EU regulation is the Regulation on the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) (Regulation (EC) No 166/2006): plants with activities over certain thresholds must report to the E-PRTR on releases of pollutants and off-site transfers of waste and pollutants in wastewater.

Targets

No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

Key policy question

What progress is being made towards reducing emissions from large combustion plants in the European Union?

Specific policy question

Has the environmental performance of large combustion plants in the European Union improved?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Queries are applied to the LCP database (EEA, 2016a) for the calculations necessary in this analysis. For each plant, total fuel consumption (a sum of fuel consumption from all fuel types) and capacity class (based on a plant's rated thermal input (MWth)) are calculated. Plants are grouped into five capacity classes: > 500 MWth, 301-500 MWth, 101-300 MWth, 50-100 MWth and < 50 MWth. The last of these (< 50 MWth) is excluded from calculations involving capacities in this indicator.

Figure 1: to create an index graph of the pollutants, disaggregated by capacity class, an index for each pollutant and capacity class is calculated for 2004-2014 as follows: (emissions in the capacity class for the current year/emissions for all capacity classes in the base year) * 100. The base year is 2004.

Figure 2: for each capacity class and year, emissions and total fuel consumption are summed, and an IEF is calculated as follows: emissions (tonnes)/fuel consumption (TJ).

Figure 3 and 4: IEFs are calculated for each pollutant separated by capacity class (Figure 3) and fuel type (Figure 4) at the EU level. The sum of emissions for a given pollutant in a given year is divided by the total fuel consumption, for each capacity class and fuel type.

LCP emissions are reported at plant level if a plant can use different fuels. For the calculation of fuel-specific IEFs, only single-fuel (i.e. plants for which one fuel represents more than 95% of the total fuel input in TJ) are included. All emissions of the plant are attributed to the single fuel, resulting in a coverage of 72 % of the plants, 78 % of SO2 and NOx emissions and 77 % of dust emissions. 

Methodology for gap filling

Some data are considered outliers, reporting very high quantities for single years, and have been modified accordingly. The modifications made are available to view on the Eionet forum (1). If there is an erroneous spike in data between years, the data are interpolated between adjacent years or set to be equal to the closest year if at the end of a time series. In some instances, a unit error is assumed.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

This indicator covers the EU-28 countries. However, there are no data for Croatia for 2004-2009. Croatia data have not been gap-filled; in the years for which data for Croatia have been reported, the data account for less than 1 % of total EU-28 emissions and fuel consumption. This is, therefore, considered to cause only a minor distortion of the overall trend.

Data sets uncertainty

Although the reporting requirements began in 2004, it is possible that the data for the first reported period (2004-2006) contain some gaps.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Bastian Zeiger

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
INDP 002
Specification
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Energy Energy

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year

Classification

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Related content

Data used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

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