Large combustion plants operating in Europe

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: INDP 001
Created 19 Oct 2018 Published 30 Jul 2019 Last modified 30 Jul 2019
6 min read
This indicator provides a profile of the number of LCPs operating in Europe, their installed capacity and the mix of fuels they use. It is based on data from 2004 onwards. The geographical coverage comprises the EU-28 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, 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). In the period 2004-2015, LCPs were covered by Directive 2001/80/EC, while in 2016 LCPs were subject to reporting in accordance with Directive 2010/75/EU. The scope of this latter directive is slightly wider and thus covers plants that were not subject to reporting before 2015. The temporal coverage is the period 2004-2016 (the most recent year with officially reported emissions;  LCP_database_v4.2 ).

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

LCPs use large amounts of fuels, mostly fossil fuels, to produce useful forms of energy. These plants generate a number of residues and waste products, and large amounts of emissions to all environmental media. The aim of EU legislation on combustion plants (IED, Chapter III) is to reduce emissions of acidifying pollutants, particulate matter and ozone precursors. Emissions from LCPs constitute a large proportion of total anthropogenic emissions.

Analysing the capacity and fuel mix profile of the LCP sector can help explain and predict the environmental pressures it generates. These pressures are tracked in indicator IND002.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator provides a profile of the number of LCPs operating in Europe, their installed capacity and the mix of fuels they use. It is based on data from 2004 onwards. The geographical coverage comprises the EU-28 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, 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).

In the period 2004-2015, LCPs were covered by Directive 2001/80/EC, while in 2016 LCPs were subject to reporting in accordance with Directive 2010/75/EU. The scope of this latter directive is slightly wider and thus covers plants that were not subject to reporting before 2015.

The temporal coverage is the period 2004-2016 (the most recent year with officially reported emissions; LCP_database_v4.2).

Units

Total fuel consumption is measured in terajoules (TJ) per year or gigajoules (GJ) per year.

Rated thermal input is measured in megawatt thermal (MWth) or gigawatt thermal (GWth).

Policy context and targets

Context description

The EU has had policies on emissions from combustion plants since the 1980s. Between 2004 and 2015, two pieces of EU law were in place: the LCP Directive and the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive  (EC, 2010). This EU legislation imposed specific emission limit values on emissions of NOx, SO2 and dust from plants with a thermal rated input equal to or greater than 50 MW. Since 1 January 2016, this legislation has been replaced by the IED (EC, 2010).

The aim of EU policy on LCPs is to reduce emissions to air, water and land, including measures related to waste, to achieve a high level of protection of the environment as a whole. The focus with regard to LCPs is to reduce emissions of acidifying pollutants, particles and ozone precursors while also covering other environmental concerns (e.g. mercury emissions).

Legal instruments that address emissions from large combustion plants

Emissions from LCPs are subject to several EU-wide regulations:

  • The IED  (EC, 2010) : IED permits are based on an integrated approach to whole environmental performance. For LCPs, and several other activities, the IED sets emission limit values for SO2, NOx and dust. Permit conditions, including emission limit values, are based on best available techniques (BATs). The BAT reference document (BREF) and BAT conclusions on LCPs were published in 2017.
  • The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) (EC, 2006a): for plants with activities over certain thresholds, they must report to the E-PRTR releases of pollutants, off-site transfers of waste and pollutants in waste water, and releases of pollutants from diffuse sources.

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

To define BATs, the European Commission organises an exchange of information between Member State experts, industry and environmental organisations. This process results in the production of BREFs. Each BREF contains information on the techniques and processes used in a specific industrial sector in the EU, current emission and fuel consumption trends, and techniques for the determination of BATs, as well as emerging techniques.

Targets

No target specified.

Related policy documents

Key policy question

How has the large combustion plant sector in the European Union changed over the years?

Specific policy question

How are large combustion plants distributed across the Member States of the European Union?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The LCP database (LCP_database_v4.2) is used 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 (in MWth)) are calculated. Plants are grouped into five capacity classes: > 500 MWth (‘very large LCPs’), 301-500 MWth (‘large LCPs’), 101-300 MWth (‘medium-sized LCPs’), 50-100 MWth (‘small LCPs’) and < 50 MWth. The last of these (< 50 MWth) is excluded from this indicator.

Methodology for gap filling

For the earliest years in the time series, capacity data (in MWth) were missing for some plants. Where possible, capacity data (in MWth) from an adjacent year’s reporting for that plant was used to gap fill.

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. Data for Croatia have not been gap filled. In the years for which data for Croatia were reported, the data account for less than 1 % of the total number of LCPs, total emissions and total fuel consumption in the EU-28. 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 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

Marthe Granger

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
INDP 001
Specification
Version id: 2
Primary theme: Industry Industry

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

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