New legislation covering Medium Combustion Plants and air quality

If you operate a boiler, CHP or generator with a rated thermal input between 5 and 50MWth then you need to know about the Medium Combustion Plant directive.

The directive is designed to tackle poor air quality; a hot topic right now with increasing evidence linking health impacts to air pollution. In 2010 the EU estimates air pollution caused 420,000 premature deaths across the EU[1]. While a lot of attention is rightly targeted at the transport sector, combustion plants also have a part to play. Enter the medium combustion plant directive. Part of the Clean Air policy package, this directive plugs the gap in regulations and covers any boiler, CHP or generator with a rated thermal input of between 5 and 50MWth.

A Medium Combustion Plant (MCP) could be used for industrial combustion or for a district heating system but either way there are an estimated 140,000 of these systems in the EU and 30,000 in the UK. The new EU Directive 2015/2193 entered into force on 18 December 2015; and must be transposed into national legislation by EU and EEA countries by 19 December 2017.

Despite substantial reduction of air pollution in the European Union over the past few decades, air quality problems persist, especially in urban areas where approximately 75% of all EU populations live.

According to the EU the three pollutants that most significantly affect human health are:

  • particulate matter (PM)
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • ground-level ozone

The most significant MCP air emissions are:

  • sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • particulate matter (PM)

So you can see why MCPs are in the spotlight.

Timeline for compliance

  • All newly installed MCPs must comply by 2018
  • All existing plants between 5MWth – 50MWth must comply by 2025
  • All existing plants under 5MWth must comply by 2030.

Compliance involves obtaining a permit, keeping records of air emissions, and demonstrating compliance with Emissions Limit Values (ELVs) for sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NOX) and particulate matter (PM) through periodic monitoring.

ELVs will differ across the EU based on the countries own criteria and may be stricter in areas of high air pollution.

While some operators will only feel the impact of the MCP Directive through registration or permitting fees and periodic air emissions testing fees, others may need to make significant investments to achieve compliance. For example, diesel generators which are used for production of electricity cannot in practice achieve MCP NOX emissions limit values without secondary abatement. It is also worth noting that the EU may set minimum energy efficiency standards on MCPs in 2020 and introduce a limit value for carbon monoxide (CO) emissions in 2023.

If you would like to speak to a member of our energy management or EHS team about compliance with the MCP directive, please get in touch with Sustain, or alternatively, use our fill out form below.


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 This blog originally appeared on the Sustain website

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