EN07 Energy-related particulate matter emissions

Indicator Fact Sheet (Deprecated)
Indicator codes: ENER 007
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This content has been archived on 12 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated

Assessment made on  01 Apr 2007

Generic metadata


Energy Energy (Primary theme)

DPSIR: Driving force


Indicator codes
  • ENER 007

Policy issue:  Is the use and production of energy having a decreasing impact on the environment?


Key assessment

Energy-related emissions of primary PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter of 10μm or less, emitted directly into the atmosphere)1, and secondary PM10 precursors (the fraction of NOx, SO2, and NH3 emissions which, as a result of photo-chemical reactions in the atmosphere, transform into particulate matter with a diameter of 10 μm or less), contribute to elevated levels of fine particles in the atmosphere. The inhalation of such particles has harmful effects on human health and may increase the frequency and severity of a number of respiratory problems, which may increase the risk of premature death.

Energy-related particulate matter emissions (both primary and secondary PM10) in the EU-25 have fallen by 52 % between 1990 and 2004, although energy-related sectors were still responsible for 80 % of total particulate matter emissions to the atmosphere in 2004. Of the specific energy-related particulate matter emissions in 2004, the most significant contributing pollutants were NOx and SO2, combined being responsible for almost 90% of the total energy related emissions.

The majority of the reduction in emissions of energy-related particulate matter pollutants between 1990 and 2004 came from the energy supply sector (in both absolute and percentage terms, although the other sectors also decreased emissions significantly during this period (Fig 1). Overall, the reduction in emissions of energy-related particulate matter pollutants was mainly achieved through a combination of the use of lower sulphur content fuels, fuel switching from coal and oil to natural gas, the deployment of emission abatement technologies in the energy supply (see EN09 for further details about emissions of SO2 and NOX from public electricity production) and industry sectors, and an increased market penetration of catalytic converters for road vehicles.

Emissions from transport decreased by 32 % between 1990 and 2004, also contributing significantly to the overall reduction of particulate matter emissions. Emissions of primary PM10 and secondary PM10 precursors are expected to further decrease significantly between 2004 and 2010 (despite an increasing popularity of diesel vehicles in many countries), as improved vehicle engine technologies are adopted and stationary fuel combustion emissions are controlled through abatement measures (including particulate traps) or use of low sulphur fuels such as natural gas. It is noted however, that not all improved engine technologies lead to lower emissions of particulate matter e.g. gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines while offering certain benefits such as improved fuel economy, produce higher particulate matter emissions (g/km) than a normal gasoline motor.

Despite the reductions in emissions already achieved, it is expected that in the near future concentrations of PM10 in most of the urban areas in the EEA region are expected to remain well above the short-term limit air quality values (EEA 2006). Substantial further reductions in all sectors are therefore needed to reach the limit values set in the EU first Daughter Directive to the Framework Directive on Ambient Air Quality. Additional measures to reduce the sulphur content of diesel and petrol fuels have been decided upon (Directive 2003/17/EC), which include the availability of the sulphur-free (<10 ppm sulphur or 'zero sulphur') fuel from 2005 in Member States, and complete transition to sulphur-free fuel by 2009. These measures should reduce emissions of NOx and SO2, as well as primary PM10, from road vehicles in the future.

Emissions of SO2 and NOx from shipping in European waters are expected to increase by 2010 with an associated increase in primary and secondary PM10 precursors (European Commission, 2005).


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