How has MCERTS impacted CEMS?


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Industrial process operators that produce gas emissions to atmosphere are regulated by the Environment Agency. Monitoring of these emissions ensures that the environment is being properly protected and helps them manage their own impact on the environment.

Under the Environmental Permitting Regulations, these sites are required to continually measure emission parameters from their chimney-stacks to ensure that they are compliant with their site permit.

The monitoring of parameters has always been defined in site permits, which are controlled by the Environment Agency (EA) or local council. The EA or local council will refer to European Legislation I.e. the Waste Incineration Directive (2000/76/EC) and/or Process Guidance Notes I.e PG 1/12.

In 1998, the Environment Agency introduced a scheme that would provide tighter controls for emissions to air including a technical specification that Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS) had to meet. The scheme was named MCERTS.

The purpose behind the MCERTS scheme was to:

  • Provides assurance to regulatory authorities that equipment and services approved to MCERTS standards are suitable, and capable of producing results of the required quality and reliability
  • Gives users of monitoring equipment confidence that equipment approved by MCERTS is robust and conforms to performance standards related to current international Standards
  • It supports the delivery of accurate and reliable data to regulators and to the public
  • Provides a framework whereby further monitoring instrumentation and other aspects of compliance monitoring can be formally certified.

The original scheme was based on industry best practice at the time. As the legislation and permits have developed so has the MCERTS scheme. For sites that have permits issued by the EA, two pieces of legislation became key. These were the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) and Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD). The EA now require any site that comes under WID or LCPD to have CEMS installed.

In 2003, MCERTS version 2 was released which allowed the EA to enforce that any CEMS installed on WID or LCPD sites be MCERTS compliant.

In 2008, the MCERTS specification was aligned with European standard EN 15267-3 (Air Quality - Certification of Automated Measuring Systems (AMS) - Part 3: Performance standards and procedures for testing the performance of AMS of stationary source emissions). This is the standard that was used in Europe for the certification of CEMS. This standard added additional testing requirements and therefore enhanced the original MCERTS scheme.

To satisfy the requirements of MCERTS version 3.1, and therefore EN 15267-3, the CEMS have to satisfy a variety of in depth tests:-

CEMs undergo laboratory and field tests for:

  • Linearity
  • Interferences
  • Response time
  • Detection limit
  • Effect of environmental conditions
  • Reproducibility
  • Availability and maintenance interval
  • Zero and span drift
  • Quality assurance and design control of manufacturing
  • Proves CEMs meet the requirements of Directives

Today, the new MCERTS certificates issued under version 3.1 reference EN 15267-3 and QAL1 (Part of a European calibration standard EN14181, which is also a requirement on WID & LCPD sites). MCERTS therefore provides the same quality CEMS as any certified system from Europe.

MCERTS certification has an important role to play in improving industry standards. The revision of the MCERTS standards and test procedures for CEMS is positive for the industry in ensuring that process operators continually improve their performance to reduce their emissions levels to protect our environment.

As the certification has a life span of five years, the current list of MCERTS products show version 2 & version 3.1 certification. It is therefore of paramount importance that operators select the correct equipment, as the incorrect MCERTS accredited equipment could be a costly mistake. Site operators have to prove they can deliver their permit requirements and meeting MCERTS is a big part of the required compliance.

At a1-cbiss we have over 20 years expertise in designing and integrating MCERTS accredited CEM systems. With extensive knowledge of UK and European standards, we can offer ongoing support, in understanding and complying with your site permit and the changes to come as the MCERTS standards will grow and evolve.

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