European Environment Agency (EEA)

Air pollution from electricity-generating large combustion plants


Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

The study was initiated in the context of the review of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive. This report presents the results of a study that assesses the theoretical potential to reduce air emissions of SO2 and NOX that might have occurred had the best available techniques (BAT) and associated emission levels (AELs), as described in the large combustion plant best available techniques reference document (LCP BREF), been fully introduced in a set of electricity-generating large combustion plants (LCP) within the European Union (EU‑25) in 2004. A similar analysis is also provided, illustrating the potential effect of implementing the LCP Directive emission limit values (ELVs) at the facilities included within the scope of the work. The study covers more than 70 % of the emissions of SO2 and NOX included in EPER for the LCP sector (6).

Scope of this study
This study quantifies what the emissions reduction of two important acidifying pollutants — sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) — would have been at an EU scale in 2004, had the large combustion plants BREF best available techniques and associated emission levels been applied in electricity-generating large combustion plants included in the study.

Several issues have not been considered to be within the scope of the study. These include consideration of ongoing changes that have occurred in the sector since 2004 (e.g., changes to plant fuel mixes; replacement of old plants with newer, more efficient and cleaner plants; operational changes with respect to plant use as peak or baseload generators; changes in emissions due to start-up/shut-down procedures; evolution in abatement equipment along with general economic growth).

The emission reductions that can be achieved in practice due to the implementation of IPPC legislation (even if not considering such factors as fuel mix changes, closures or economic growth) are therefore not necessarily the same as those indicated by this study. Hence no conclusions concerning compliance with legal requirements should be drawn. Rather the study may be viewed as a 'what‑if' study that aims to quantify the potential emission reductions that are achievable by implementing the techniques presently identified in the large combustion plants BREF as best available techniques in the large combustion plants sector as it operated in 2004.

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