Polluting emissions from large combustion plants
The European Union sets limits for emissions of pollutants from large combustion plants.
Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control).
Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) came into force in 2011 and replaces seven previous pieces of legislation, including Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants.
Its main purpose is to reduce harmful industrial emissions, in particular through better application of best available techniques (BAT), thereby benefiting both citizens’ health and the environment.
Chapter III of Directive 2010/75/EU contains special provisions for combustion plants. It applies to combustion plants, the total rated thermal input of which is equal to or greater than 50 MW, irrespective of the type of fuel used.
Certain types of combustion plants are excluded from its scope. Examples include:
those whose products of combustion are used for heating, drying, etc.;
post-combustion plants designed to purify the waste gases by combustion which are not operated as independent combustion plants;
facilities for the regeneration of catalytic cracking catalysts;
facilities for the conversion of hydrogen sulphide into sulphur;
reactors used in the chemical industry;
coke battery furnaces.
The law lays down rules on aggregation. For example, where the waste gases of two or more separate plants are discharged through a common stack, the combination formed by such plants is considered as a single combustion plant and their capacities are added for the purpose of calculating the total rated thermal input.
Emission limit values
The emission limit values for large combustion plants laid down in Annex V to the directive are generally more stringent than those in the previous Directive 2001/80/EC. There is a degree of flexibility (transitional national plan, limited life time derogation) for existing installations. Annex V (Parts 1 and 2) lays down the emission limit values for combustion plants.
District heating plants
Until 31 December 2022, certain district heating plants may be exempted from compliance with the emission limit values (e.g. if the total rated thermal input of the combustion plant does not exceed 200 MW or the plant was granted a first permit before 27 November 2002).
Monitoring of emissions into air
EU countries must ensure that emissions into air are monitored in accordance with Part 3 of Annex V and that the conditions laid down in the installation’s permit to operate are fully met. The installation and functioning of the automated monitoring equipment are subject to control and to annual surveillance tests.
Geological storage of carbon dioxide
In this regard, operators of all combustion plants with a rated electrical output of 300 MW or more should ensure that: (i) suitable storage sites are available; (ii) transport facilities are technically and economically feasible; and (iii) it is technically and economically feasible to retrofit for carbon dioxide capture.
Malfunction/breakdown of abatement equipment
EU countries must ensure that the permits issued by their competent authorities contain provisions relating to malfunction or breakdown of abatement equipment. In the case of a breakdown, the operator must reduce or close down operations if a return to normal operation is not achieved within 24 hours, or operate the plant using low-polluting fuels.
Entry into force
Deadline for transposition in the Member States
OJ L 334 of 17.12.2010, p. 17-119
Council Decision 2003/507/EC of 13 June 2003 on the accession of the European Community to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone (Official Journal L 179 of 17 July 2003).
This 1979 protocol seeks to cut emissions of sulphur, NOx, NH3 and VOC caused by human activity and capable of damaging human health and the environment through processes of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation resulting from long-range transboundary transport.
Commission Recommendation of 15 January 2003 on the guidelines to assist a Member State in the preparation of a national emission reduction plan further to the provisions of Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants (notified under document number C(2003) 9) (2003/47/EC) (Official Journal L 16 of 22 January 2003).
Air pollution from medium combustion plants
Directive (EU) 2015/2193 on limiting emissions of certain pollutants into the air from medium combustion plants
It lays down rules to control air emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust (particles) from medium combustion plants*, as well as rules to monitor carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from these plants.
The aim is to reduce potential harm to human health and the environment.
EU countries must ensure that:
all new medium combustion plants, that is, plants put into operation after 19 December 2018, have a permit or are registered;
by 1 January 2024, all existing plants with a rated thermal input (or capacity) greater than 5 megawatt (MW) have a permit or are registered;
by 1 January 2029, all existing plants with a rated thermal input less than or equal to 5 MW have a permit or are registered.
Each EU country’s competent authority must hold a publicly available register with information on each plant, such as the type of fuel used and expected number of annual operating hours.
The legislation sets out emission limit values by fuel category, distinguishing also between new and existing plants. Some plants may be exempted from the limits.
The limit values apply from 20 December 2018 for new plants and by 2025 or 2030 for existing plants, depending on their size.
Operators of plants must:
monitor their emissions;
maintain a record, for at least 6 years, of the results of emission monitoring, of operating hours, type and quantities of fuel used and details of any malfunction or breakdown.
EU countries must:
establish effective inspections to check compliance with emission limit values;
by 1 January 2021, submit a report to the European Commission with an estimate of the total amount of annual emissions of CO;
by 1 October 2026, provide the Commission with qualitative and quantitative information on the directive’s implementation. This must include estimated total annual emissions of SO2, NOx and dust (particles) from plants, according to their type, fuel used and capacity;
by 1 October 2031, provide the Commission with a second report on implementation.
The Commission will:
submit a summary report to the European Parliament and the Council within 12 months of receiving the national reports on implementation;
by 1 January 2020, review the progress in relation to energy efficiency of medium combustion plants and assess the benefits of setting minimum energy efficiency standards;
by 1 January 2023, assess whether aspects of the legislation should be reviewed, including the need to set more stringent emission limit values for new plants and regulate CO emissions.
The directive does not apply to certain combustion plants, such as
coke battery furnaces;
gas turbines and engines used offshore;
reactors used in the chemical industry; and
plants already covered by other EU legislation regulating their emissions, such as Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control).
The directive does not apply to ancillary research, development and testing activities.
Application & Background
It applies from 18 December 2015. EU countries have to incorporate it into national law by 19 December 2017.
The legislation fills the regulatory gap between large combustion plants (over 50 megawatts) which are covered by the industrial emissions directive and smaller appliances, such as heaters and boilers, which come under the Ecodesign directive.
Medium combustion plants are used for a wide variety of applications (electricity generation, domestic/residential heating and cooling, providing heat/steam for industrial processes, etc.).
For more information, see ‘The Medium Combustion Plant (MCP) Directive’ on the European Commission’s website.
Medium combustion plant: a plant which burns fuel and uses the heat generated, with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 MW and less than 50 MW, irrespective of the type of fuel it uses.
Directive (EU) 2015/2193 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from medium combustion plants (OJ L 313, 28.11.2015, pp. 1–19)
Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (OJ L 334, 17.12.2010, pp. 17–119)
Successive amendments to Directive 2010/75/EU have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
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