Medium Combustion Plants Directive (MCPD)
The Directive on Medium Combustion Plants (MCPD) aims to control emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and dust from combustion plants between 1 and 50 MW as part of the Clean Air Policy Package. However, emissions of pollutants from oil refinery MCPs are already regulated under the Industrial Emissions Directive and the Best Available Technique (BAT) conclusions for refining oil and gas. So FuelsEurope welcomes the decision not to include in the MCPD combustion plants firing refinery fuels to produce energy.
The agreed text of the MCPD addresses most of the regulatory inconsistencies that would have resulted from the initial proposal, and FuelsEurope welcomes a number of specific changes that were made.
A number of plants and activities have been excluded from the scope of this directive. Some of these are already regulated by existing regulations. Others have been excluded because of their specific nature, such as most of the combustion plants already excluded from Chapter III of the Industrial Emissions Directive. In particular, the MCPD will not apply to the combustion plants firing refinery fuels alone or with other fuels for the production of energy within mineral oil and gas refineries.
Transition period for ELV compliance
The dates by which existing plants will have to comply with new Emission Limit Values (ELVs) have been maintained at 2025 for units above 5MW and 2030 for units below. This is consistent with the proposal and time horizon for a directive on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants. It is also adequately aligned with the Energy and Climate Change target date. Earlier deadlines would have had big impacts for small- and medium-sized units that do not significantly contribute to air quality issues.
The agreed text introduces differentiated regimes for existing plants, aimed at reducing costs for the smallest plants. In addition, the ELVs have been set in a way that will not always require use of the most expensive secondary techniques, partly addressing the cost of compliance.
Provisions for specific circumstances
FuelsEurope welcomes the possibility for certain facilities of applying less-strict ELVs and extending compliance deadlines up to 2030. Such facilities include district heating systems above 5MW; facilities using biomass as their main fuel; and plants that are part of small, isolated systems – such as those on islands. Also welcome is the possibility of exempting from compliance plants in operation for a limited time.
Stricter ELV requirements in some zones
An earlier version of the text proposed mandatory stricter ELV requirements on MCPs in zones not complying with air quality standards. However, this will now be an option left to Member States, who will be able to set stricter ELVs if an assessment demonstrates that they would noticeably improve air quality.