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Large combustion plants are responsible for a significant proportion of anthropogenic emissions. In 2014, large combustion plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) and nitrogen oxides (NO x ) contributed 45 % and 15 %, respectively, to EU-28 totals.
Since 2004, emissions from large combustion plants in the EU-28 have decreased by 74 % for SO 2 , 47 % for NO x and 73 % for dust.
The largest plants (> 500 MWth) account for only 24 % of large combustion plants but are responsible for around 80 % of all large combustion plant SO 2 , NO x and dust emissions. In 2014, of a total of 3 446 large combustion plants, 50 % of all emissions came from just 42, 82 and 31 plants for SO 2 , NOx and dust, respectively.
One indicator of the environmental performance of large combustion plants is the ratio between emissions and fuel consumption (i.e. the implied emission factor). The implied emission factors for all three pollutants decreased significantly between 2004 and 2014 for all sizes of large combustion plants.
In 2014, there were just over 3 400 large combustion plants (LCPs) in the EU-28. The number of such plants increased by 10 % between 2004 and 2014. Most of this increase occurred between 2004 and 2010, with the trend stabilising after 2010.
There was also an 19 % increase in installed capacity in the EU-28 between 2004 and 2014.
The actual use of this capacity, in terms of the fuel input, remained broadly stable between 2004 and 2008, but since 2010 there has been a decreasing trend in total fuel used by large combustion plants in the EU-28. Fuel input fired in 2009 was 7 % lower than in 2008 and 3 % lower than in 2010.
The mix of fuels used remained largely stable over this time, although with a shift away from liquid fuels towards biomass. Between 2010 and 2014, the consumption of solid fuels increased while that of natural gas decreased. The types of fuel consumed most in 2014 were solid fuels (mainly coal; 56 % of total fuel consumption) and natural gas (24 %).
The installed capacity of large combustion plants in Europe is not equally distributed: Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom together accounted for more than 50 % of total fuel input and operating capacity in 2014.
A significant reduction in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) has been achieved by the EEA-33 countries since 1986. This reduction has been largely driven by the 1987 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Montreal Protocol.
Upon entry into force of the Montreal Protocol, EEA-33 consumption was approximately 420 000 ozone-depleting potential tonnes (ODP tonnes). Consumption values around zero were reached in 2002 and have remained consistently so ever since. S ince the early 1990s, th e European Union (EU) has taken additional measures, in the shape of EU law, to reduce the consumption of ODS. In many aspects, the current EU regulation on substances that deplete the ozone layer (1005/2009/EC) goes further than the Montreal Protocol and it has also brought forward the phasing out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in the EU.
The emissions of a number of compounds categorised as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) decreased between 1990 and 2014 in the EEA-33, e.g. hexachlorobenzene (HCB) by 95 %, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by 71 %, dioxins and furans by 85 % and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by 60 %.
Although the majority of countries report that POP emissions fell during this period, some report that emissions increased.
In 2014, the most significant sources of emissions for these POPs included the ‘Commercial, institutional and households’ (13 % of HCB, 39 % of dioxins and furans, 54 % of PAHs and 15 % of PCBs) and ‘Industrial processes and product use’ (16 % of HCB and 51 % of PCBs) sectors.
Across the EEA-33 countries, emissions of lead decreased by 92 %, mercury by 73 % and cadmium by 66 % between 1990 and 2014.
Across the EEA-33 countries, emissions of lead from the road transport sector decreased by 98 % between 1990 and 2014. Nevertheless, the road transport sector still remains an important source of lead, contributing around 15 % of total lead emissions in the EEA-33 region. The largest sources are industrial processes and product use, which together account for 23 % of emissions. However, since 2004, little progress has been made in reducing emissions further; 99 % of the total reduction in emissions of lead from 1990 levels had been achieved by 2004.
Local soil contamination in 2011 was estimated at 2.5 million potentially contaminated sites in the EEA-39, of which about 45 % have been identified to date. About one third of an estimated total of 342 000 contaminated sites in the EEA-39 have already been identified and about 15 % of these 342 000 sites have been remediated. However, there are substantial differences in the underlying site definitions and interpretations that are used in different countries.
Four management steps are defined for the management and control of local soil contamination, namely site identification (or preliminary studies), preliminary investigations, main site investigations, and implementation of risk reduction measures. Progress with each of these steps provides evidence that countries are identifying potentially contaminated sites, verifying if these sites are actually contaminated and implementing remediation measures where these are required. Some countries have defined targets for the different steps.
Thirty of the 39 countries surveyed maintain comprehensive inventories for contaminated sites: 24 countries have central national data inventories, while six countries, namely Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden, manage their inventories at the regional level. Almost all of the inventories include information on polluting activities, potentially contaminated sites and contaminated sites.
Contaminated soil continues to be commonly managed using “traditional” techniques, e.g. excavation and off-site disposal, which accounts for about one third of management practices. In-situ and ex-situ remediation techniques for contaminated soil are applied more or less equally.
Overall, the production sectors contribute more to local soil contamination than the service sectors, while mining activities are important sources of soil contamination in some countries. In the production sector, metal industries are reported as most polluting whereas the textile, leather, wood and paper industries are minor contributors to local soil contamination. Gasoline stations are the most frequently reported sources of contamination for the service sector.
The relative importance of different contaminants is similar for both liquid and solid matrices. The most frequent contaminants are mineral oils and heavy metals. Generally, phenols and cyanides make a negligible overall contribution to total contamination.
On average, 42 % of the total expenditure on the management of contaminated sites comes from public budgets. Annual national expenditures for the management of contaminated sites are on average about EUR 10.7 per capita. This corresponds to an average of 0.041 % of the national GDP. Around 81 % of the annual national expenditures for the management of contaminated sites is spent on remediation measures, while only 15 % is spent on site investigations.
It should be noted that all results derive from data provided by 27 (out of 39) countries that returned the questionnaire, and not all countries answered all questions.
The number of organisations registered under the EMAS standard rose by 50% during the period 2003-2010, while organisations from EU countries certified according to the international ISO 14001 standard more than quadrupled in the period 2001-2009. This indicates that private companies and public institutions in the EU are increasingly engaging in environmental management.
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/industry/indicators or scan the QR code.
PDF generated on 27 Apr 2017, 07:20 PM
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